Jesus hears a swarm of bees beneath his porch. His television
screen repeats the scene: runners blown off their lightweight
frames, bystanders turned curbside amputees. Another urban
cloud of smoke, the street littered with more paper. A man says a
bomb doesn’t have to be big; thousands don’t have to die. An ex-
plosion of any size is enough. Shrapnel. Concussions. Lost shoes.
Within the hour, automatic rifles hang heavy on shoulders in sub-
way tunnels and established checkpoints. The female anchor, in
her navy blazer, says there might be surveillance video: a dark-
skinned man, a backpack left behind. Someone will answer for
this, she says. He knows it’s only a matter of time until the bees
will want to come inside.
Tonight is gut-shot with fireflies. The whole town is down by the
river watching sky get drunk on gunpowder. Every year can be
rolled like this piece of paper and slipped into a bottle. Domestic
violence sounds soft, like pocket lint or game-show laughter. You
think that bottle cap is a lucky charm. You think everyone carries
an opener. You say worst-case scenario and I am standing in the
war. I am standing in the water. How far to the barge of fire? How
far upstream do I begin? What do my eyes look like from space?
Excerpted from The Spoons in the Grass are There to Dig a Moat, Sarabande Books, 2016.
AMELIA MARTENS is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There To Dig a Moat, a book of prose poems, which was selected by Sarabande Books for the 2014 Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature (forthcoming in April 2016).