Words of Our Own 

This lovely little verse fluttered down unto me like a cursing rabid locust drunk on whiskey with a black heart. War news on TV meets online holiday shopping, and voilà, a poem that I hope will be rendered moot soon.

shop_pentagon.com
by Robert Fanning

Today another flag-covered box arrives

on my porch, as they do weekly, without fail,

filled with what my income tax has bought.

Lifting the box — heavy today! —

I wave

to the Fed Ex man, driving off with all

his other deliveries, one for each household

down our quiet street. Grabbing my knife

to slit the taped top, I can't

help feeling

a little giddy. Foolish, I know, there's no

holiday surprise here — after all, each

of these gifts I bought. Inside my box

today: somebody's shattered watch,

the bent rim of a bike wheel, a torn page

of Baghdad's daily news, a Marine's

bloodstained glasses, half of a

boy's severed

leg with a striped sock and an untied blue

canvas shoe still on. Not bad.

But maybe I'm a little jaded, because

a couple days ago I heard a lady in hysterics

a few houses down, running from door to door

like she'd just won The Price is Right,

hoisting her spoils: what looked to me like

nothing more than a charred chicken breast,

which she claimed was a terrorist's ripped-out

heart. Now that's getting your

money's worth.

Robert Fanning, author of The Seed Thieves (Marick Press, 2006) and the forthcoming American Prophet (Marick Press, 2008). For more information, visit robertfanning.com.

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