Poem: “Flies”

Sometimes I retire pieces that I don’t want to fuss with anymore. This poem received a couple of rejections last year and upon re-reading it, I decided not to revise. It’s not a matter of it being good enough, but more a matter of accurately representing what I tried to say at a particular time.

Without the buzzing, all I hear is oblivion.
Even the flies have left us,
evolving into specks in the past,
unable to digest the poison.
We have become less than death.

Old corpses are of no use.

Most of the shelters were shams,
metal drums buried in the ground,
lined with words like “Safe” and “Secure.”
They were endorsed by the top people in the West.
They were on sale at the local home improvement store.

They are the most expensive coffins in the world.

The old shelters, the ones built into high schools,
they were solid, years of paranoia layered in paint.
Those of us lucky enough to find them emerged
scavengers of those other, newer shelters:
The prepared, the pragmatic, the pestilence.

The sham shelters were remarkably easy to break open.

Becky and I came across one last week.
The flies had been there once,
and a few things that had been predators,
and a few things that had been children.

Becky never misses a beat.

Once in awhile I see the shadow of a bird.
Wide and dark, it circles over an empty landscape,
terrifying and terrified to land.
To land means death.

I watch the shadow skim the dirt as Becky pops open another can.

“Shit,” she says, “This was a tough one.”
There is a scream and a gunshot.
Ah, someone bought the upgrade.
There is a dragging, a shuffling, a grunting behind me.
There will be nothing left for you, circling bird.

There is not enough food to go around.


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