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Thursday, June 15, 2006


by Sheila Black

One click and I’m in. Minimum 6543, maximum
10,432. In the forum someone writes
we should all fuck ourselves throw up our milkshakes
and big Macs. It is years since I ate a Big
Mac but suddenly I want one. Then again I want
to throw out my cupboards and smash all the jars—that
jewel-like plenty. Raspberry Salsa, Kiwi-Chipotle
Barbecue sauce, the boxes of pastini, jars of pesto.
Explain how the television is always on and filled with
the pictures of the suffering of other people?
And what does it mean that my daughter asks about the
bomb that explodes in yet another car,
Did a person really die? And why there are never
photographs in the paper of the suicide bombers or much
detail about their lives before. As if their gesture
made everything after—the sun-glassed
eyes, the hooded face, the malignancy. Yet I cull what
I can. The straight-A student, a girl, who had a
voice like nightingales. The boy who once loved a bear
made out of a sock even though it had no eyes,
and he had never seen a bear, not in the zoo, not in
the forests, which have all been cut down in his part of the world,
due to heavy settlement, the close proximity of
swelling populations. Is it a tightening or a letting go?
And why do we feel immune from this sickness,
the longing just to blow everything up?
The crowded cupboard of wine bottles and foodstuffs
stares back at me, reflected in the flat ethereal blue
of the personal computer. If this life were a house
it would be trashed, brim-full of disposable consumer goods.
How will I cleanse it, sort out, throw away, how
will I arrive at the sweet kernel, life of
sanity and balance. The 10,432 (maximum) crowd beside
me at the stove as I cook my family dinner.
Why do I imagine it will please them if I make
perfect rice, slice ripe tomatoes from the garden?
The greed of our small, cramped joys. I spread my arms,
wave my wooden spoon in the air, imagine us all
breaking, breaking, breaking up.

Sheila Black received her MFA in 1998 from the University of Montana. Her poems have appeared in many print and on-line journals including DMQ Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Blackbird. In 2000 she received the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize, given annually to one U.S. and one Mexican poet living along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Her first book House of Bone is forthcoming from CustomWords Press in 2007.