the policeman knows
by Fran Lock
a killing is called for. your romany man
for a frankenstein. tomáš, a necessary
neck. you inhabit the holes in his eyes
forever, your fine mouths boarded up,
your deaths both cheap and pure. your
bodies are packets of stale contraband;
the glorious fact of your shadow, a witch.
you are beaten with sticks until your own
mouth evicts you. you cannot inhabit
even your breath. the policeman knows
what is left of you: a barren sleeve,
the candle consumed by its thin no
comment. the split hairs of refusal,
turning white. he knows you will not
emerge into magic. there is only death
and its council of spades, sifting
the earth into absolutes. in the end
you are denied even fire, your fire
i mean, that slender escapist, your best
and other self. the policeman is made
of bronze, of granite, the steel
and concrete press of the town
beyond. each night, he consecrates
his meltweight to the scales, pleased
by what he's gained. his kneeling
knows no prayer. your faces dwell
in his mythology of mirrors. he sees
you looking back at him and is
afraid. his counter-spell is gravity.
do not go shirtless and feather-
weight into the night. do not throw
your convulsive survival
at the world. crouch in corners,
shrink. he will wade in you up to
the waste. in the silvery destitute
streets you have no right to walk.
the policeman knows where to
redeem your teeth, if necessary.
they will open you up, searching
for a proportionate fact. as it was
in dublin, in carrickmines, in smithy
fen, in teplice and anywhere,
the policeman knows. the cracked
rib that he calls god is on his side.
oh, to be washed clean. to be washed
Fran Lock Ph.D. is a writer, activist, and the author of seven poetry collections and numerous chapbooks. She is an Associate Editor of Culture Matters.