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by Becca Titus

I wasn't around, but I hear there were journalists
broadcasts of names and quiet black rows
horror methods
both true and bite-sized.
I hear there were posters and songs
and real bodies behind them.

So I think they must be well-paid
or else frightened
because most manicured folks
on cable prefer scandals.
Material for days,
weighing in on sawdust.
I keep counting: what is a little war?
One or five we reduce to a hum of pity
while our dishes dry?

And what nerve
for the dark broadcast
to name itself for my favorite mammal?
I suppose it does fit snugly:
they live in holes, are theives,
wily and red.

So what am I, then? A dumb, overfed hen?
Should I stare and peck at my neighbors,
pretend-blind to the stalking shape
that nears the fence? I'd rather
claw its face, shriek or starve
until I'm light enough to fly.
Don't try to tell me it's the way of things.
My family left Poland
not for a living
but for a life.

The rising I wait for is stalled
in schools, bus stations, shops.
The hunger strike suicides – still happening–
don't stir anyone but us.
They black out one kind of pain, breed another.
Haven't you heard Gil Scott Heron is dead?
The revolution is bedridden.
I saw it on TV.

So how could I enjoy my lineless face?
How resist the urge to vanish,
snip off the lingerers
and slip underwater?
I'd be like a woken Creole
who leaves her burdens
on the beach.

Power threatens, rises like yeast.
I writhe inside an opaque balloon.
It hides the sky and muffles me.
I begin to regret my absent reflex
when what I needed was a hasty departure:
a raft, a tunnel, a parachute.


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