Arts & Culture » Culture

Words of Our Own


This lovely little verse fluttered down unto me like a cursing rabid locust drunk on whiskey with a black heart. War news on TV meets online holiday shopping, and voilĂ , a poem that I hope will be rendered moot soon.
by Robert Fanning

Today another flag-covered box arrives

on my porch, as they do weekly, without fail,

filled with what my income tax has bought.

Lifting the box — heavy today! —

I wave

to the Fed Ex man, driving off with all

his other deliveries, one for each household

down our quiet street. Grabbing my knife

to slit the taped top, I can't

help feeling

a little giddy. Foolish, I know, there's no

holiday surprise here — after all, each

of these gifts I bought. Inside my box

today: somebody's shattered watch,

the bent rim of a bike wheel, a torn page

of Baghdad's daily news, a Marine's

bloodstained glasses, half of a

boy's severed

leg with a striped sock and an untied blue

canvas shoe still on. Not bad.

But maybe I'm a little jaded, because

a couple days ago I heard a lady in hysterics

a few houses down, running from door to door

like she'd just won The Price is Right,

hoisting her spoils: what looked to me like

nothing more than a charred chicken breast,

which she claimed was a terrorist's ripped-out

heart. Now that's getting your

money's worth.

Robert Fanning, author of The Seed Thieves (Marick Press, 2006) and the forthcoming American Prophet (Marick Press, 2008). For more information, visit

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