about the author

Richard Chiem is the co-founder and editor of Vertebrae, a literary comics journal. He is the winner of the UCSD Stewart Prize in Poetry in 2009 and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. His work has been published in Monkeybicycle and Metazen and is forthcoming in Pop Serial, Pangur Ban Party, and SLAB literary magazine. He is currently watching Planet B-Boy the movie his tenth time and working on his new novel, Blowing Up Los Angeles.

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reasons why we could not be men in the movie Centurion

Richard Chiem

There is a blonde witch who can catch fish with her bare hands. We cannot catch fish with our bare hands waiting in the current of a river. There is a scene where a cook kills a man by throwing his butcher knife at an enemy’s face perfectly from a great distance. Later the man admits he is a cook and not even a solider. We cannot shoot bows or arrows or throw axes/knives/swords/spears or cook very well without modern things. I think about gutting a fish while getting up to microwave some leftover Vietnamese food kept inside Styrofoam boxes. We do not know the name of those giant steel balls on strings that you use to throw to kill your enemy. My ex-girlfriend uses Google and types the phrase ‘steel balls on strings that you use to throw and kill your enemy’ and clicks search. We cannot ride on horseback. We cannot whittle wooden horses to woo blonde witches. In the movie the blonde witch when she stares at the wooden horse made of whittle makes the same face my ex-girlfriend makes when she listens to ‘emo’ music. We cannot run for days on end and traverse up and down hills and surprising terrain. We are not willing to eat neither animal carcasses nor their insides nor drink their blood on the go while people are chasing us on horseback. We are not willing to camouflage ourselves among leaves for hours waiting to hear the sounds of enemies approaching—this is a notable beautiful shot in the movie, showcasing very smooth choreography capturing all the action in one still frame. We cannot tell the difference between dangerous mushrooms delicious mushrooms or magic mushrooms in the wild. There is a scene where a man mentions this casually about to eat his lunch, claiming delicious mushrooms. I watch my ex-girlfriend take a drag from the joint and watch the drug pull her attention to the back of her mind while we sit in potential energy on the couch and the movie plays. We embarrassingly could not handle the cold of the wild among the trees and pure air. Today La Jolla California is fifty degrees and ‘cold as balls to us,’ says my ex-girlfriend. In the beginning of the film, there is a flying tracking shot of a Roman man running half naked across tundra enduring still bleeding wounds. I am still wearing two layers inside my apartment with the windows open and she is cold too, my ex-girlfriend in the corner entranced by all the gore on screen. If dunked in barrel of piss we would not emerge screaming I WILL NOT YIELD. We cannot battle our way out of a bloody skirmish with swords or survive a bloody skirmish or understand why everyone wants to start trouble. Yesterday near the fog around the shores, changing a flat tire takes us over an hour and a half while I argued with my ex-girlfriend on my cell phone about what to do tonight. Earlier we cancel our social plans to watch something from Netflix at my place to do drugs. After watching the movie, I remember I had the urge of running up and down the street to get my heart pumping going farther and father out than ever expected. My favorite part in any movie is when someone else turns their head around and says, I don’t know about you guys but I am tired of running. I am tired of running from these bastards. She says she wants to watch the movie again but naked and eating hot ass steak but only if we sit on the floor too. She says I want to be flogged. She wants to replay the romantic scenes.

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