It dreams of knives unzipping torsos and finding the truth: some men aren’t made of flesh, crumpled dollars clogging arteries, dirty and manhandled.
It dreams of fire that looks veined: it knows that destruction is the most human thing of all. It has nightmares of people who speak and sparks
flare from their mouths, of private jets crashing into mansions, of waking to a home coated in so much dust that no maid can make it shine,
of foreign tongues that turn to divining rods and point accusatorially wherever it goes, of stray dogs with voices, of spells that resurrect the murdered,
of rusted tanks, of prison bars melting, of suffering that turns land into a rash, of songs that claw at walls like an infestation, of children
reading books about heroes who learn how to rescue themselves, of skin that’s not as white as snow.
What is Trying to Kill You
The wastelands where no serotonin flourishes in your brain. The dams that your body builds in your arteries out of trans fat and refined sugar. Your inability to solve the equations of investments and retirement savings. Snorting the ancestry of corporations. Economies that subsist on blood. Fleeing a home you love, chased off by rising rent. Politicians who play fetch with human bones and gnaw on them on their down time. Maybe the man that follows you off the bus has a gun. Maybe he has fangs and that hunger that afflicts only beasts and men. Sometimes you say you’re hunted and no one believes you. Sometimes you tell no one you’re eroding. The tasers you watch chomping on black torsos corrode your tenuous faith in justice. Sometimes you fantasize about social change, but an aerial video of the protest you marched reveals that you look like vermin that have overrun something abandoned. You never enter an airport security machine without imagining what it would feel like for your plane to crash into a high rise. Gods with penises that mansplain from holy books that men kept revising, so that your muted body would cave in on itself obediently and worship. The prayer beads you bind your wrists with, the talismans you’ve rubbed into fray. Your poorly seamed anxiety, your legacy of melancholy, your stockpile of genetic diseases. Memories you can’t conjure anymore. You’re waiting for the winds to gather their forces and invade your shores. Rising sea levels, holes in the ozone layer, melting polar ice caps, climate change, human destruction so senseless that it can only be gawked at. Words that evade truth. Truths that evade voices. The refugee crisis of your fingers that reach out as open palms when they need to be fists to feel safe.
-- Anne Champion is the author of The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Salamander,Crab Orchard Review, Epiphany Magazine, The Pinch, The Greensboro Review, New South, and elsewhere. She was an 2009 Academy of American Poet’s Prize recipient, a Barbara Deming Memorial grant recipient, a 2015 Best of the Net winner, and a Pushcart Prize nominee.