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For each question below, use red ink to circle the option that best describes your beliefs. Please do not omit any questions. While undertaking this exercise, it is ideal to repress your perceptions of climate change, sexuality- and gender-based violence, or white supremacist activities occurring in your immediate vicinity. If answering these questions distresses you, you may wish to consult a herpetologist.

1. a) Rage is a terror, a murderous unholy apocalypse.
b) Without rage blazing in my gut, I cannot fly.

2. a) Greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels constitute increasingly urgent conundrums.
b) The flames erupting from my nostrils sometimes prevent me from enjoying a good night’s sleep.

3. a) Refugee children should not be caged at U.S. borders.
b) Refugee children should not be caged at U.S. borders.

4. a) Poems should create joy, lifting us out of grief and terror.
b) My eyes are slitted but I can see you just fine with your needle-sword, your tinfoil helmet. I am only pretending to doze as, on tiptoes, you approach your doom.

5. a) People who say, “Oh, I don’t pay attention to politics” are difficult to converse with.
b) [gout of stinking fire]

6. a) Violence is bad.
b) Yes, it is very bad.

7. a) Then why have you become so ugly? Anger is a toxin. A woman needs to let it go.
b) It is easier to release poison when the shadow of your enormous wings blights the countryside. Then, like a dried-up dream or fading leaf, it drops away.



Lesley Wheeler’s newest poetry collection is The State She’s In; her first novel, Unbecomingwas published by Aqueduct Press in May 2020. Poetry Editor of Shenandoahshe lives in Virginia.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2022

There is little more inspirational than a writer who devotes her talents to the work of others.
I was twelve when my mother was born. Twelve or thereabouts. If I’d been older, I could have said things like I never wanted to be a daughter; I don’t have a filial bone in my body. Relatives could have tilted their heads at me, insisting I’d change my mind. But I was twelve so I said nothing. I had no relatives.
a few miles from the fallout zone. / You double-check the index card
Unripe morning / cut open too soon
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