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Poetry

Homeland security

Buff Whitman-Bradley

Hour after hour day after day
The airport security guard
Stands at the x-ray machine
Watching ghosts
Pass by on the monitor
Dark shapes with blurred edges
Floating among faint outlines
Of folded clothing
She is good at what she does
She has learned to distinguish
A bar of soap from a bomb
A hairbrush from a handgun
Her eyes never leave the screen

But after time
She no longer needs the machine
She can see directly
Into your briefcase your carry-on bag
She can count the coins you forgot
To take out of your pockets
She looks past the faded ephemera
Of the garments you wear
Of the flesh you wear
Down to the spectral bones
Surrounding the pale pulsing shadow
Of your heart

She finds now that she sees this way
Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week
And worries about too much stress at work
And worries about going mad
She would like to turn it off
But she cannot
The code is always red
And enemies are everywhere

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