A Partial List of Effects

Jeremy Michael Clark

            Before me the heat rises off
the blacktop. Before me there was a man
& a man & a man, which is to say violence

has endless revisions. This lineage I try
to reject leaves me with a partial face,
one black eye & the other brimming

with tears that won’t fall. Black feathers
in the street, caked in blood. A bouquet of dead
flowers I can’t help but catch. Somewhere’s a car

& a driver ignorant of the harm he’s done.
This morning a boy dressed for school slid
his foot into his shoe to find a mouse

had crawled inside to die. If there’s one,
there’s many
& who knows better than
the exterminator the logic of infestation?

What scratches in the walls at night disappears
the scraps he won’t eat. Going hungry
is a silent protest, a power that in the end

isn’t power, but its shadow. The sun
at my back turns cloth into a burden
that traps the growing heat against my skin

& on the news they warned us of the rays
trapped in the atmosphere. The playgrounds
are empty all July. Exposure turns the body

into its own enemy: without water, white streaks
above one’s brow, in the creases around one’s
cracked smile, the salt starting to show.