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An Abridged History of American Violence

The boys are kicking over garbage cans

and smashing car windows with heaves

of glass bottles. Time in the pest house

of school or remediation on a road crew

has moved them to boredom with bare knuckles

and stolen knives. Soon, their insecurity

will concentrate on the grip of a Glock

till an enemy, who a minute before

was unknown and not an enemy, appears

under a streetlight. The provocation

will be slight: soft palms hardened

to a shove. In days to come,

friends of the enemy will strip bark

from the few trees they know and graffiti

their grief onto the trunks. And the boys,

even after the votive jars have filled

with rainwater and plastic rose bouquets

have somehow wilted in the humidity,

the boys will also mourn their killed.

In their woe they will want for a light

to slow-drag through them, a light

like the reflection of sequin or chrome.

They will not find it and they will not

find it until they are discovered faceup

in a dirt lot where neighbors remember

a house, a while back, was torn down,

where now bricks and teeth of glass

push up, like Indian bones, through the soil.

from Ghost, like a PlaceFind more by Iain Haley Pollock at the library

Copyright © 2018 Iain Haley Pollock
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Iain Haley Pollock Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.