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  • EXCRESCENCE: Haiti sampled after the hurricane


    The sea retreated.


    The retreating sea left leavings
    of retreat that became a puppet
    show of arms trade years later.
    Guns and walkmen,
    Jesus’ face knit into sweaters
    and under the eyes
    eye black with silver lettering that said:


    Stakes are high. At the wake
    the Preacher demanded a tenth of the cow
    meat. At the dealer’s trial no one mentioned
    the witness’ kidnapped children. Or
    that the witness, one day, decided to miss
    a step falling falling falling broken.


    There are wig stores on the green, hair
    springs back first—
    its care, the weaving of it,
    cell phone chargers next.
    Theatre watchers from windows smell
    the sea, see it finger shores,
    see the mother of the dead witness,
    hair newly plaited,
    collecting shells to pay
    the Preacher for the son
    in the Jesus sweater found
    between the walls
    of the dealer’s house.



    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This is a world in arms.”   

    –Dwight D. Eisenhower “Chance for Peace”


    Did we put all the money in the packets?
    At the beginning of the line where everyone was lined
    Up horizontal and even for the dash—

    did everyone have the same amount in the packets we stuffed?


    We’ve never done that
    though we heard that if we did the same
    people would end up with extra
    packets again; the same two-jobs, back-
    to-back, mortgage-problem people with slobber-sick-kids
    with fewer packets.


    Everyone elected would come in
    first. Everyone already in would come in
    again, first,
    everyone with most of the packets says.




    it would be fun stuffing
    the packets evenly




    You have to wait your turn. Nobody can
    See. It’s private. But they know you
    Linear, standing behind, in front of them.


    When the circular door at the end
    unseals and it’s your turn
    to go in you take the vacated
    spot on the kneeler in the draped cubical.


    Outside in the light with an ear
    against the cubical
    where the kneeler is, a person
    with a face reacting in public
    to what you say, is shaking
    his head.


    People out there watching
    what he hears
    they feel it.
    They feel the lightlessness
    of the whispering. They whisper
    back from corners
    how to get you


    About The Author

    Joyce Miller

    is an editorial assistant to The Cincinnati Review.  Ms. Miller received her Masters degree in Italian Studies from The Ohio State University.  Her fiction and nonfiction work have won awards including, most recently, first-runner up for a novel in the Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition of 2011.  Joyce is also a part-time student focusing on Classics and English.  An instructor of Italian at the University of Cincinnati, her fiction has been published in Ohio Voices.  Prior to teaching duties at the University, Ms. Miller served as director of a community media rights-based non-profit.