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Monday, May 02, 2011


by John Paul Davis
- after Alan Gillis

I want this magic to be true:
After the madman’s body falls
the soldiers who shot him
sneak backward through night
to their helicopters,
which corkscrew tail-first
to waiting aircraft carriers,
where they’re swallowed
down into the briefing rooms
where the mission papers
are tucked primly into top-secret
envelopes. All over the Middle East
this is happening, history’s
most powerful army
loses ten years of sunburn
& PTSD, crates up the fighter
drones, disassembles their machine
guns, backs the tanks onto behemoth
airplanes waiting to snap
back halfway around the globe
where the shining arms
of landing strips wait
to cradle each solider
easing down the ramp,
where tears climb the faces
of spouses waiting in cars
to ferry them to bed
where they make love
like it will never happen
again. The world’s most ancient
and beautiful cities rise
from rubble as the wrath & flame
is slurped back into missile payloads.
Somewhere in Washington DC
your can hear the static
sound of the President’s signature
peeling itself off the Patriot Act
& spiraling back into a pen.
Everywhere police unfrisk
Muslim men & women
as if patting dignity
back onto their no-longer
contentious bodies. FBI wires
shuck themselves from telephones
& shrink away like lost
erections. The rhetoric of talk radio
hosts grows less & less racist
& crazy. An army of volunteers
& heroes rise from their sickbeds,
exhaling toxins & dust
that rides every wind
back to the gleaming beacon
city poking out into the Atlantic
where ruins climb themselves
toward heaven, fusing
back together, smoke & soot
resolving to steel & stone
until people from all over the city
eagerly pour into them, some so desperate
they fly feet-first up dozens
of stories in through windows,
followed by the fairy dust
of glass shards that jigsaw
back into windows behind
them. They land on their feet,
run back to their desks
as the towers spit out
first one airplane,
then another, coughing
deep & loud as God.
The planes race
each other back to Boston,
where nineteen men
grow less certain & foolish,
put away their box-cutters,
forget everything they learned
in a Florida flight school,
go back to their homelands
where they back away
from rich men in limousines
with their diabolical
offers & serpent-twisting
of scripture. They back
away & away, out
of the sorrow of centuries-old
conflict & in under
the blessed doorframes
of their families’ houses,
where their mothers
embrace them
as if for the very last time.

John Paul Davis’s poems have been published in print and online journals such as RATTLE, The Columbia Poetry Review, WordRiot, Apparatus, The Cordite Poetry Review. He was a 2009-2010 writer in residence with Vox Ferus. He is editor and designer of Bestiary Magazine.