Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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Amputation Transcript, a Redaction

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Should I write down what I heard? A voice, the gasp
of a prosthetic knee. Grass taken into the mouths
                                                They have no clue
of two donkeys grazing behind
                                                what’s going on.
a fence; behind another, people screaming. No, not the right

word: jeering. The difference between fear and derision
thin as the blood-brain barrier.

Mortality displacement. That’s what he said, microphones
                                               You’re gonna die, bitch.
turned like flowers to the sunshine of his voice.

Balaam beat his donkey about its ears until it turned
to him and spoke: You have no clue, do you?

Straightens tie, turns from microphones
and coughs into fist, meaning: My soul is among lions;

I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire,
Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue
                                               Eat it. Eat.
a sharp sword.

If I hadn’t heard your voice. Should I write down
what I heard? Wind in the cyclone
fence. An arrhythmia
of mortar fire. At 5 minutes 31 seconds

one still kicks at the wet, toothy faces. Fingers hooked
in the chain link. Sometimes I don’t know what they’re shouting.
                                               Those guys are looking around, breathing.
It may be another language.

Read the names, make a tally. A check box for missing
left leg, below knee
right leg, below knee
left leg, above knee
right leg, above knee
                                               Look at the face on that one.

If you cracked open the carcass of this country, would honey
flow out?

A requisition form. The pallet of brown boxes,
taped, stamped:

The roaring of the lion, The voice

of the fierce lion, And the teeth
of the young lions are broken. Or: “500

major amputations—toes and fingers
aren’t counted.” Do the math. Nine

lions. Two donkeys. One
doesn’t even run. I’ve never screamed

at anyone. Can you believe that?
Electrocuted in the shower (faulty wiring).
Electrocuted in a swimming pool (faulty wiring)
Sniper bullet entered behind left ear, exited
through mouth, severing
soft palate and tongue. All this time, the angel

of the lord standing
in our path with his sword raised
to strike. The general steps up

to the microphones and says: My heritage is to me like a lion in the forest;

It cries out against me;

                                                I was kinda hoping they’d die
Therefore I have hated it.


What do people scream about, anyway?

Sometimes, you see,
what they do is they load down a donkey
with explosives, bags of broken glass, and point him
toward the nearest checkpoint.  end

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