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Prelude to a Revolution

ISSUE:  Summer 2010

We go to the prison windows and pass cigarettes
and tangerines and iodine through the bars.

Anything we think could heal a man. The assassins kiss
our fingers. Mercenaries sing us songs about unbroken light

as we mend their shirts. The bilingual murderers recite
lamentations in one tongue, and in another, young myths.

We fold and unfold our shawls and the men squint
into the sunlight, dumb with hope. Some days they confuse

the walls of their cage with their skin. Some days,
the sky. They see their deaths in the sweat darkening

our dresses. To sweeten the hours we share a scandal
from the city, how the coroner found minnows

swimming in a drown girl’s lungs. They ask if it’s true,
if slaves are chained together on ships to discourage suicide.

We say Yes, they will never be free. They warn us
that one night soon, the judge will wake to find his bed alive

with wasps, while across town the night watchman will stare
stunned at the moths circling him before he realizes he’s on fire.


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