M.L. Smoker

The Necessary Bullet

[begin excited, anticipatory voice]
surely this is the route, the very route
[lose excited, anticipatory voice]
…we never once moved across. In how
many ways can we make this argument?
Asia is the blanket flashed across eyelids
the final scene unwinding, crumbling
against black edges.
[movie set make-up trailer, artist applies heavy bronzer with care]
we are our own proof.
our language, July’s mosquitoes, a man
with medicine all within three-four-five
dimensions as frozen waters subside.
it was the shape of our unspoken names
that etched out badlands and red rock plateau.
[university library, child seated among high book stacks]
we will not ask again – do not use myth or legend.
another antelope crests the hills to the north
of a town remembered for the slaughter of wolves,
wolves stacked high beside train tracks – you build
such strange monuments to yourselves
she says to the view.
[archaeology lab, expert explains the value of carbon dating]
there is no other way to take these things.
it is dark, there are train tracks to the east
under ice. men touch down palms to the cold
each knowing the others are thinking
this is science, most holy of holies.
can you hear the sound of old women clacking
their old tongues to the roofs
of their mouths in the dust?
this is prophecy so never
ask the Indian whether she’d take
the million dollars or the match.
gasoline is on the shelf in all our houses.

M.L. Smoker
The Necessary Bullet is reprinted from Another Attempt at Rescue (c) 2005 by M.L. Smoker, by permission of Hanging Loose Press.