by Jennifer Martelli
Featured on Life As Activism
The city guys are stringing Christmas lights on the locust trees.
The men are lifted up in buckets. First, any old witches come down.
And then the forgotten paper pumpkins. The bats.
The city guys shake loose the dried up locust pods: brown and curled
they land on Essex Street like snakes dropping. Finally, the white
lights can go up and stay up past the New Year.
If there’s a God, His indifference has settled deep within
my ribcaged country. Last night, on television, I saw a woman shorn
of make up give a speech. And I read about a woman who screamed
for her life but no one came. All over her body: fatal mouths
opened wide with a knife say aaah, say aaah. The city guys string
these white lights on the bare branches, and wind them around
the fat trunks tight and soon, all of Salem will glow.
Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of the chapbook, Apostrophe. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thrush, [Pank], The Baltimore Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as a co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Blog Folio.
Image credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash