The Civilian

Andrew McAlpine


Tonight's terror has been cancelled.
Sirens are to be used purely for illuminating
the margins of this ancient text. Oh that we could
rest in this space, one scribe jots to another. If I
could only crack this knuckle, this one right here,
until my finger is flaccid & ready for some thought
outside of me to take hold. All things are alien
in the right coating of shade, the spotlight swiveling
to punch out a hole where a figure might once
have been. It is in this penumbral outline
that one can see where the coyote punched through a wall,
& it is only in study that this shape can be traced
back to a crate marked TNT. An early observation
that our favorite method of problem solving is dramatic
removal, the mountain side tumbling over itself
in a race to the forest floor. Prizes for everyone!
For your peaceable gentility, a bronzed man folding
his hands in prayer. For your courage under fire,
the wool of a freshly killed lamb. The committee,
upon deliberation, has found you worthy of this & so
much more. Damn the pile of bodies. The right
bodies in the right configuration! they say. I walked
uphill for you once in the rain, pounding the goldest
doors & the diamondest sidewalks, asking for
a meager transfer of funds. Let those digits clutter up
someone else's ledger, was my pitch. Don't mind me,
I am always acting as an instrument of a lesser good.
The best good I could imagine, anyway, as the satellites
pulled the sky down around me, as they would pull the sky
every lousy night, one after another after another.