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Cheryl Keeler



Moms make a wall of yellow shirts, 

bike helmets & cloth masks,


face-to-face with federal agents—

all of which have moms


all of which stand on booted feet

grown by those moms


all of which hold weapons in arms

grown by those moms


all of which shield unique noses

designed inside those moms.


Even the one who ordered them here

had a mom.


He, too, started as an embryo 

inside that mom


a clump of cells.


He learned to wiggle his toes

and hiccup, perhaps, inside that mom.


His heart started beating there,

his spine formed, his eyes rounded.


Seventy-five years ago

he was as vulnerable


as another mom’s child

supine on the street 


with a knee

on his neck.


Tommy Guns


She says of the Portland protesters—police 

should take tommy guns and shoot ‘em all.  


She pushes back in her chair,

where we physical distance on the porch:


that would take care of things!

She sips her wine and nods. 


Well, I say, attempting calm, that wouldn’t 

take care of things—


it would cause more troubles.

When she leaves, I can’t get those


tommy guns out of my head.

I want to see what makes


this gutsy generous woman

talk of tommy guns,


peer into her bluster.

I sit there, seeing her—


newly eighty, her TV, omnipresent,

cameras rolling on human rivers roiling,


alone with her ailing dog, her retirement

stash lost by investment scam. 


Meanwhile coronavirus roams the world

targeting people of her age.


Escalation everywhere it seems, 

fingers reaching past her locked door


reaching her, snapping, snapping—

goddam, make it stop!


as if tommy guns

could do that for her

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