Strange Echoes

                        (after Plath’s “The Swarm”)

Somebody is shooting at something in our town—
A dull pom, pom in the Sunday street.

          A row of masked officers beat a woman with
          billy clubs. She persists, salt spray against cliff.

          After she drops her ballot in the box, she holds up
          her hands, four fingers for a flag she has not got.

          From her single unswollen eye, she takes in the
          applause. She walks the polling hall down and back.

Somebody is shooting at something in our town—
A dull pom, pom in the Sunday street.

          A nurse, just off-duty, hears sirens. Her beeper
          summons her to a triage that continues for hours.

          The wounded are layered on gurneys. The mud
          squirms with throats. Who are they shooting at?

          How instructive this is. No one outside
          a combat zone has seen this before.

Somebody is shooting at something in our town—
A dull pom, pom in the Sunday street.

          At the flick of a button, the young men in the newsreels
          retreat into choppers, which lift into sky and disappear

          within hangers where their strong bodies back into planes,
          reversing the long miles homeward, to towns and houses,

          to the arms of families, beneath ribs to their mothers’
          wombs, all the way to the busy gametes.

 

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in Muse A/Journal, Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Posit, The Inflectionist Review, and more.

 

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