Baba Yega Says by Rayfield A. Waller

Baba Yega Says

All of you ‘longside the Bosporus,
you should learn my proper name.

Forget what your old Nana told you.
I am not a woman.

Slovaks, Russkis and Serbs,
you Czechs and Bosnians, you Turks
you’re mistaken about me.

I am a man.
Or at least man-like, not your Baba,
a man to be Mankind’s demise.
I am a sharp claw and a rotten tooth.
Now do you know the truth?

So now run.

You’ve no hope
of seeing your grandmother in me.
Nor will you hear me coming,
not in my dog-paw silence.

You’ll not see my jaded eye until
it floats in the dark beside your bed.

Your father’s blood on my jaw.
That is who I am, and these lips
are not going to bless you because
I am not of ancient Svarog
nor am I that youngster
the Roman god Jehovah.
Bukavac is my true name.
Now know the truth.

So now run.

I am from someplace far from
the villages that gave you your birth.
Bucin, and Racinvovic,
places I’d gladly put to flame
and havoc.

When I storm into your open mouth
you won’t know I’m coming,
nor will you see where I came from.

Your little heart will crack
and then will liquefy in my grip
when I squeeze.

I am the dried blood behind
the village ice box.
I am the apple knife that will
slash your mother’s throat.

I am the chicken bones and
the egg shells you thought you
were done with that you tossed away
when you finished your final meal.

Give back what you took
and perhaps I won’t
gut your children,
won’t raise their screaming little souls
as blackened zrikavacs, back
from an afterlife.

Perhaps I won’t
set them stalking you
like dogs with broken teeth and
mouths full of blood, limping
on hind legs—

and perhaps I won’t lay
your dear dead darlings
underneath your cot, not
leave them scabrous and twitching,
roots sprouting from their throats,
kaputniks burnt by sulfur and salt.

Give me back my dominion
and perhaps I won’t
make you hear their dead voices
like squealing hinges,
condemning you,
and shrieking my name.

Rayfield A. Waller. Detroit, Michigan, United States. Waller is a poet, cultural critic, labor activist, and political journalist who is a professor of literature, history, and the social sciences at Wayne State University and Wayne County Community College in the postindustrial city of Detroit, Michigan.

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