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Sara Bess


Instructions For A Diorama

Imagine a diorama, or build one
if you need to: shotgun style
house in cinderblock gray
cardboard walls set in
marshdamp earth. Look up

and notice that it's raining, that it's been raining
since the beginning and no matter how many times
someone stitches up the sky it always starts raining
again. Picture cardboard walls saturated

and slumping inward, little clay figures inside
melting into the ground. Dig out
a needle and thread from wet clay

and try to stitch up the sky. We've all done it,
but it always starts raining again, first a trickle
at the seams and then a downpour

and then the walls are slumping in

and you're melting into the ground

and the needle is slipping from your
clayslick fingers. It always happens
like this. Nothing changes
but the steady accumulation
of alternating layers

of cinderblock gray cardboard and redbrown clay
and cinderblock gray cardboard and redbrown clay
and cinderblock gray cardboard and redbrown clay
and muscle and bone and the needles

are piling up and sticking up from the ground
like weeds because the rain is made of needles

and how do you stitch up the sky
when the rain can pierce right through
the skin of the world, this little world
you worked so hard
to build, tear a thousand tiny holes
that spread and grow and multiply
until there are more holes than sky,
more needles than ground.



Every ten seconds
a soft beep, my tether
like clockwork scripted
voice. A woman

Are you registered to vote as a Republican, a Democrat, or something else?

compliments my lack
of affect, not understanding
my precarity,
that I am two hours

And would you call yourself a strong Republican or not-so-strong?

a week short of keeping
my food stamps,
that I am fifty dollars
short of filling

Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Donald Trump is doing as president?

my prescription,
that I am only thinly
housed and it is getting
colder. Every ten seconds

Do you strongly approve or only somewhat approve?

a soft beep,
like clockwork. A woman
compliments my lack
of resistance, not understanding

Do you approve or disapprove of the job that congress is doing in Washington?

that my bones
have been pulled from
my body like weeds,
that I am draped

Do you strongly approve or only somewhat approve?

across my chair
like an old coat, that
I am every ten seconds
a soft beep like clockwork.

author photo.jpg

Sara Bess grew up in the rural mid-south but she doesn't live there anymore. She was a 2017 Lambda Literary Poetry Fellow. Her poems have appeared in The Wanderer, Plenitude, Witch Craft, and elsewhere.


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