Two Poems by Jennifer Lagier


Death Toll

Hopeless begonias behead themselves,
spill futile gore on September concrete.
I sweep away casualties, erase guilty stains
before neighbors notice.

Yesterday the body count
of American soldiers in Iraq
surpassed the number of those
who perished on 9/11.

Another failing bloom snaps
its own fragile neck.
Congress debates definitions
and the limits of torture.

Around me, autumn sacrifices what unfolded
and blossomed during short summer.
I gather shattered crimson and mourn
the waste, an unending death toll.

They Call it Religion
“Who will save your soul after all the lies you’ve told…”—Jewel

How do we explain our worship
of retaliation now that there
are no more suicide airplanes
and crumbling towers?

What prayer is sufficient to erase the image
of a dim-witted madonna leading the naked man
smeared with blood and feces,
wearing burlap, electrodes, a barbed wire collar?

Which denomination quotes scripture
to justify beatings and stressed isolation,
a hooded victim standing on a box,
his arms outstretched in mock crucifixion?

Strange disciples call down fire from the skies,
sell us on holy revenge,
use lie after lie to anesthetize our souls,
whisper flawed benediction.

Jennifer Lagier