Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
print version

Moo and Thrall

Some people like to be
            spectacularly swayed.

By a red field
            and a glint of metal.

A surgeon’s knife. A gun. A pole
            that holds up a banner . . .

I want to tell you about what I saw,
            on the quad.

Just-dead flesh-babies twelve feet high.

Monkey-head strapped in a test contraption,
            the enormous caption:
            —WHAT IS THIS—
Late term.
            They looked like smashed melons. One still latched

            to the cord—

You ask what I thought. I thought,

Who am I to judge
            what another person needs.

Who am I to have to pay

I’d wanted coffee and walked into
            a carnival of death.

But death was always
            ho-humming it, in various forms,

            all over the doom├ęd land—

Still, students clustered.

Young men offered to play the ballast

for the scaffolding
            from which the lurid pictures flared. I thought,

Look at that: something labeled
            ‘free speech board’—

At either end of the kill-display, where you could
            dig a marker
into white butcher paper—Get Your Fucking Hands
            Off My Body—in girlish

Across the quad the clinicians waited.

Across the quad sat the rational young, offering info
            on colored paper, it
couldn’t compete
            with lunchtime Grand Guignol—

I wanted some coffee.

I wanted some coffee and a sweet croissant.

I wanted and walked
            through the moo and thrall, how hadn’t I
seen it—chalked
            underfoot, every few paces the same
smeared message:


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