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There

By 

Thomas Locicero

In the marketplace, there is a hum that speaks

of both peace and the anticipation

of violence. It is not a place to breathe

easy, nor is it a place to linger.

There, the place should be treated like a heist:

do your business quickly and then retreat.

You will not see a woman’s face. Not there.

Which is not to say you will not find a bride.

How can you trust a face you cannot see?

How terrible you are to think such thoughts!

Who is she if not simply a woman?

The same goes for the child you call innocent.

Does his chest appear too big for his frame?

A pushcart is a pushcart or else it is

a pushcart with a detonator. There,

unpredictability is certain.

There is no confidence in buying a piece

of fruit as if your life were in your own hands.

Somebody in the crowd cries out, Look! There!

Is that a kite or an angel or a drone?

You see an orange undressed in one long peel,

its thinness begging a child to pull it.

Is the rind string a tripwire? Is the car

left abandoned over there the blast zone?

No, see? The car is his; he looks normal.

Will it explode when he turns the key, or will

he plow into a crowd of pedestrians,

then exit the car wielding a pair of knives?

He and others like him will drive away.

Here. But you always wonder, What about there?

Your “there” is another’s “here,” maybe your own.

There, a woman sweeps dust from her fruit booth.

No one who expects to die pushes a broom.

Today, in America, two prisoners

surprised two guards, killing them with their own guns.

Were the guards caught off-guard because they swept,

victims of the monotony of the day?

The prisoners were aware, planning, sharp,

waiting for the guards to reach for the brooms.

None of us can escape being unaware.

We do not plan to die today, yet someone

plans to take our lives, if not here, then there.

Day after day after day, we congregate

there, and—nothing. Then we send our child there

to buy some fruit for tomorrow’s breakfast.

We know better than to plan so far ahead.

Then we hear it, and we know where it is. Here.

Quiz question:

The poem was inspired by a tragic marketplace bombing in January 2017. In which country did the bombing occur?

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Iraq

Iraq

Pakistan

Pakistan

Syria

Syria

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Issue 20

published 

September 22, 2017

“There” was written by Thomas Locicero, who lives in Broken Arrow, OK, and whose most recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Birmingham Arts Journal, Clockwise Cat, Snapdragon, felan, The Ghazal Page, Red Savina Review, Better Than Starbucks, The Write Launch, Bindweed Magazine, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Abyss & Apex Magazine, The Avocet, and vox poetica.

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Issue 20

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the Lit.cat archives.
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