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Sunday, December 02, 2007


by Janée Baugher

The machete's long metal flat extending from a fist,
an exclamation mark against each clean throat.
The forty-something middle-America truck driver,
his quiet face on screens and on pages of newspapers.
A blindfold of gauze and duct tape.
Hands bound behind back.
The proud row of masked men.
The final hour before the moon, a giant eye, opens to night,
before the copies of the video hit newsrooms.
Later, the body found stuffed with dynamite.
A corpse with no right to a head.
. . .

The twenty-something Korean translator,
liaison between working tongues and incapable ears.
Before he was pinioned, before the video of a hungry machete,
a clip of him pacing in a red T-shirt and jeans.
Hands pleading, and the mouth:
I do not want to die
In perfect, clear English.
          to die.
A man man-enough to beg for his life.
Such certainty, to want to stay in a world of men against men.

While one man stares into eyes so brown they're black,
the machete penetrates skin, blood as lubricant
so the blade slides easily to the esophagus,
through muscle, to vertebrae and out.
The body drops.
The head held up by a hand.

Janée Baugher's first collection, Coördinates of Yes, was a semifinalist for the 2005 Tupelo First Book Prize, and is available through interlibrary loan. Her second collections, The Body's Physics, was a semifinalist for the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Ontario Prize. Baugher teaches Creative Writing at the University of Washington Experimental College during the academic year and at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan each summer.