A Long Late Pledge
by Wendy Willis

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Wendy Willis • Poet & Essayist


Citizen, Poet (excerpt)

Election Day breaks ravishing. The bald cypress shakes free
its needles and spits its most favored word: libertine.
The crows trade cigarettes and tear through the trees

scattering prayer candles & Sacagawea dollars. As for me,
if elected, I will peel back the black earth and lay bare
what is scratched there: Poet, liar, citizen of the unconscious.

And yet, with all the ancient liberties and free customs,
the ballots are burned with aplomb. The wind dies down,
and itís unanimous. I am expelled with a hacksaw, a faint

salute, a nosegay of orange nasturtium & wilting
honeysuckle. On the surface, the old streets wind bright
and unmappable. I cannot measure the length

of the hours or recall the name of each ashen face.
Pliny the Elder turns out to be unreliable.
Crows do not speak with a split tongue, and wine

is rife with lies. The shadow of bruised black feathers
cast long in the mind of the returned. I cannot flirt the comforts
now. No. But I will carry this dark cinder for the nation.

© 2017 Wendy Willis