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By Evie Shockley

       when the cultivators of corpses are busy seeding

plague across vast acres of the land, choking schools

       and churches in the motley toxins of grief, breeding

virile shoots of violence so soon verdant even fools

       fear to tread in their wake :: when all known tools

of resistance are clutched in the hands of the vile

       like a wilting bouquet, cut from their roots, while


the disempowered slice smiles across their own faces

       and hide the wet knives in writhing thickets of hair

for future use :: when breathing in the ashen traces

       of dreams deferred, the detonator’s ticking a queer

echo that amplifies instead of fading :: when there-

       you-are is where-you-were and the sunset groans

into the atlantic, setting blue fire to dark white bones.

"the way we live now ::" from semiautomatic by Evie Shockley © 2017 by Evie Shockley. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission. 

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Poet Bio

Evie Shockley
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, poet Evie Shockley earned a BA at Northwestern University, a JD at the University of Michigan, and a PhD in English literature at Duke University. Both spare and lyrical, Shockley’s poems often begin with an active interrogation of received poetic forms and practices, such as capitalization. But her work is also interested in subjectivity, the lyric tradition, and notions of place. Coeditor of the journal jubilat from 2004 to 2007, Shockley is a professor at Rutgers University. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. See More By This Poet

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