and Nightmares —
Our city at the center of the cone
of projected impact for a category five hurricane
sent Austinites scurrying for provisions.
Looking for non-perishable protein
at a grocery store out of milk, tortillas, bread
and bottled water, I found gourmet salami
rolled in herbs and made in France.
I don't buy American beef because, in spite
of mad cow disease in our cattle, the FDA does
not require universal testing.
So the French salami was a find, a meat product
unlikely to be contaminated by a disease
that eats holes in your brain.
I bought three rolls, later looked at the expiration
dates, then decided when the storm missed us
to celebrate -- cut open the herb salami.
It was delicious, primal, astoundingly good.
We devoured it, licked thyme and oregano
off our fingers.
We could live on this stuff.
One night we didn’t cook dinner.
And then the nightmares started.
In one my left arm and neck had been sliced
into thick pieces, like salami.
I couldn’t move without falling apart
and my posture bent oddly.
My father appeared from death to
help, but couldn’t.
I woke up, afraid of the dark.
Another night I was repeatedly pulled
into a forest where an assassin/rapist
was waiting to devour me,
and screamed myself awake.
Later my dream world shifted.
I walked across a bridge that turned
into a grassy levee saturated with acid.
The river beyond hissed and boiled.
We decided not to eat any more
scary food, gave the last of the salami
to the dogs who barked and cried
in their sleep too.
About that time the news filled up with
stories about a possible Avian Flu pandemic
coupled with reports that the pharmaceutical
make vaccine to counteract it because there
was a chance their product would expire before
a pandemic took hold --
followed with news that the Spanish Flu
of 1918 was really Avian Flu --
coupled with even better news that
we would employ the army to enforce
quarantines in lieu of modern medical advancements,
This military approach to disease
control is such a good idea Congress is about
to cut medicare benefits, so poor people won't be
able to afford vaccines anyway.
Tax breaks for corporations and the rich are,
Suspect beef, bird flu, swine flu --
Venison is ok so far, but deer carry ticks
that spread Lyme Disease.
Fish are full of mercury.
Monsanto rice, grain, veges
produce sterile seed that require
Monsanto fertilizer and pesticides,
which are carcinogenic.
©copyright, 2005, Susan Bright
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
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*picture courtesy of Nick Chaldakov