the most punk rock band in the world had no electric guitars
By Vincent Poturica

I’d like every nuclear stockpile to be detonated simultaneously
to even the playing field to stop being so petty to remember
to tie my shoes I wish purity was quantifiable that our
gentleness decency courage were given numerical values
out of a possible 100 points at the end of each day so we
could have a better idea of how much we were progressing or
failing towards an ideal version of ourselves
I heard these words
at a performance in colombo on the third floor of a tamil
parking garage near the borella prison where the inmates
receive a single scoop of dahl for breakfast lunch & dinner
if they’re lucky I was with my friend the diplomat who’d been
a music critic in a past life & who said this shit is real
first some kids covered songs by joy division & nine inch nails
then a couple dudes in doo rags rapped about dharma & lasantha
wickramantunga’s murder & chewing betel while watching
reruns of scooby doo & then this real skinny guy took the mic
& I recognized him as a news photographer who I’d shared
an elevator with at least twice he looked like a metalhead
with his long black hair & nose ring & he wore a snoopy t-shirt
he held an elephant stuffed animal that he started talking to
telling it things like the light never left this world I’m running
out of minutes on my phone
he introduced himself as lasantha
then he introduced himself as the man of all
then he started to cry & kiss the elephant while
making weird sad sounds like tooooleeeedaaaahaaaabooo
he said he was st. paul & sang a sinhala prison song & broke
a bottle of ginger beer and rolled in the glass & I thought about
simone weil starving herself to exorcise the darkness from her
heart & this guy told his elephant he loved it he hugged it & said
hello chaps my name is the global south & welcome to colombo
where when we tell our life stories in which nothing happens
but everything happens if you know what I mean so that by
the end of our stories everyone we’ve ever known is dead
including ourselves which really isn’t so bad because we all
know that the night is much lovelier when you’re a ghost

No Kissing
By Vincent Poturica

Kemala said No kissing.
She was in the bathroom brushing her teeth.
I was taking pictures.
I took pictures of the stuffed animals lined up against the pillows.
There were three stuffed animals: a duck, a panda, and an octopus.
I named the duck Abigail.
I named the panda Boris.
I named the octopus Untitled.
I imagined them discussing the negative effects of globalization.
I thought Stop being stupid.
I thought You need to concentrate.
I used the pen Nisthar gave me to take pictures.
The pen had a camera inside it.
Nisthar was my editor.
He set up the meeting with Kemala.
She was a prostitute from Indonesia.
Nisthar wanted an exposé.
He wanted pictures.
He wanted to take advantage of my white skin.
I said Isn’t it dangerous? Going undercover?
He said You’re a white bugger, there’s no danger.
I said Whatever.
I said I’ll do it.
I didn’t wanna look scared in Colombo.
And I had an American passport.
I was spoiled by my passport.
I thought about this as I took more pictures.
I took a picture of a grainy photograph taped to the wall.
It was a photo of Kemala and a little boy.
They were smiling in the photo and holding cotton candy.
I took a picture of a child’s painting taped to the closet.
I thought Why is Kemala still brushing her teeth if she won’t kiss me?
I thought that was weird.
I thought maybe she had OCD.
I thought Oh well.
I opened Kemala’s refrigerator and took a picture.
There was a Nutella jar, a pizza box, some mangoes.
I took a picture of a wooden cross above her bed.
I thought about Jesus and his loneliness.
I thought about St. Francis and his loneliness.
When he wasn’t talking to the birds.
He was walking alone.
The moon was shining and he saw a leper in a ditch.
St. Francis gave the sick man money.
He gave him his heavy coat.
He said a prayer.
He kissed the leper on the mouth.
The leper disappeared.
St. Francis thought That was Jesus.
I was telling it to myself when I heard a sound from the closet.
The sound went: tump tump-tump.
I heard it again: tump-tump-tump.
I took a picture of the closet.
I opened the door.
There was a little boy rocking back and forth.
His head was tapping the wall.
He was playing a game on an old laptop.
There were robots in the game.
There were purple explosions.
I closed the door before he noticed me.
Kemala finished brushing her teeth.
She touched my shoulder.
She said How many years you are?
I said Twenty-three.
She said I twenty-three.
I said Same age, wow.
She said You have big nose, but you are nice person.
I said My nose is not that big.
She said Very big.
I said Okay, it’s big.
She said You fuck me now.
I said I would like to kiss you first.
She said No kissing.
I said Please.
I touched her face and her hair.
She said 500 rupee extra.
I gave her 500 rupees.

Vincent Poturica lives in Long Beach, CA, and recently completed his MFA at the University of Florida. Previously, he worked as a journalist in Sri Lanka and Minnesota. His stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlas Review, The Baltimore Review, Birkensnake, Bodega, SmokeLong Quarterly and elsewhere.