Martin Arnold


Her third wish she enunciates, Ms. Texas,
Across the microphone’s tiny black ears
Into the applauding darkness


For world peace.


Her first the lights and cameras grant,
Her second she’ll contract in endorsements.


Be careful what you wish for my mother whispers.
A neck sweating diamonds may mean a continent of children in slavery.


Every person knowing your name may mean
Governments posting gross national bounties on your head.


A world of peace may only be negotiated
In post-nuclear settlement, Nature millions of years beyond roads
Erasing its human mistake.


Even the possibility of magic I can’t imagine beyond a scale perversely balanced—


The ability to levitate, but not to fly,
To be invisible but immaterial,
Unable to run hands through the shimmering treasure I’ve amassed,
The cars and cash, the diamond-studded tiara.


Right now I wish that this elegant contestant,
This wispy, sequined, sashed, overly sunned and glowing
Representative of Charity’s estate


Would whisper into the mike something so vile,
A wish so monstrous


She calls a plague upon herself
So horrific the audience gasps and flees the building
In case Fortune is listening
And delivers it right now


Pulverizing anyone in her vicinity
Like a rock the size of Dallas falling out of the sky


Until they realize on the drive home
That her getting the full magnitude
Of that desecrating wish


Means only good things left for the rest of us,
Only prosperity.