The force that has imprisoned you
allows, perhaps by oversight,
a stray gleam
to strike a ledge, a wall, 
a corner of your cot.
Its movement, instead of
the emptying of the bowls
you eat from and excrete in,
becomes the day,
and helps you once you learn
to downsize your mind
to enter and follow; it
contains all motion and all worlds, all light.

Except when thought,
which has detached itself and lives
occasionally, now
indissoluble from anguish, says
the force that has imprisoned you
calculated this
illumination and intends
its effect. You will
be grateful, tractable,
without memory or
soul, indistinguishable from
your enemy and
void at the end.

The warning fades, but never quite.
A rationalization
repeatedly affirmed becomes
truth: your very cells
will reflect your cell, you will walk
the few steps allowed,
go blind, submit, bid
farewell to the self
in the full voluptuousness
of despair, become
one with the available
entertainment, metaphysics,
and never cease to hate.


In present circumstances, poetry
becomes cave painting,
which, leaving aside magic and
animism, concerned
creatures that someone needed dead.

The Republican Governor
of Michigan and the Board
in charge of black and factoryless towns
decide to save money
by bringing Flint water

not from Detroit but the local river
through disintegrating lead
pipes. Which results
in organ failures and numerous brain-damaged
children. A spokesman 

says “Relax.” Eventually he
and his Director resign. The Governor
is “sorry” but has called for further study.
Which for poetry raises
the question why such men are allowed to live.

Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. A collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, 2015 from Prolific Press. Another collection, LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT, to be published by Smokestack Books (UK), 2018. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Bateau, Main Street Rag, Fulcrum, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Allegro, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Thunderdome, etc. Fred is an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at George Washington University.

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