V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Refortified by state troopers in black jodhpurs
And full tactical belts, heavily-armed, 
Owl-eyed boys in camouflage, a fussier 
Staff of ticket agents, and the usual if now

Beefed-up legions of security personnel
(A blunt force which, having seen in us
A new appreciation for their skills,
Are, all things considered, much nicer).

It eases first, then releases the mind 
To gauge its own insecurities, 
That soft jolt of adrenaline which 
Reminds us we have cast our fates 

At the brink of something we canât defend, 
Or defend altogether, against whatever 
Else might be waiting out there. 
And something about this milling ruckus

Of wary selves backed up and forming
Into broken lines asks us to consider this:
"Why does anyone ever leave home?" 
And the answer is suddenly hard to find.

Not enough so that anyone actually steps
From line, but enough to simply 
Make us all a bit more sheepish and afraid. 
At least, that is, until a hand floats up

Above the mantled, green-lit arbor and,
With a sense of divine authority,
Guides us forward with a beeping wand, 
A gesture by which we canât help feel

That weâve been rightly singled out 
For all weâve ever claimed to be: 
An army of unarmed travelers who, 
Not only would not do others harm,

But remain unhindered by those who do.

© by Sherod Santos


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