Size / / /

They told us this war would never end

so we signed up for the duration;

after all, job security.

There was some surplus left over from the War on Drugs,

and we helped ourselves.

At least, this would provide armor

against the tedium

of waiting forever to be terrorized.

The reading matter we had to pass the time

included pamphlets about the earlier wars,

all worthwhile, all still inconclusive:

on cancer, heart disease, cerebral palsy,

lupus, and hirsutism.

And then, there were the inspirational books:

Coping with Nameless Dread,

How to Fear Practically Everything,

How to Win Enemies & Alienate People,

and other trenchant works.

Finally, we got the full message:

insecurity was our only security.

Shaking in our boots,

and glad to be doing so,

we waited for the other shoe to fall.




Duane Ackerson's poetry has appeared in Rolling Stone, Yankee, Prairie Schooner, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Cloudbank, alba, Starline, Dreams & Nightmares, and several hundred other places. He has won two Rhysling awards and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Salem, Oregon. You can find more of his work in our archives.
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