idylls for mall cop

Dominick Knowles

We hear plastic jazz in the mall elevator,
chord changes that sound like contradictions
of capital whirring,     weaving a bootstrap noose
from the dead wasps in the light fixture. “This used
to be a jail cell,” you tell me. “It’s a jail cell still,
but now they pay you minimum wage to smile in it.”
The cop standing beside us nods, the final mutation
in a system so enormous that to think of it hurls us
out of Cambridgeside, across the no man’s land
between skull and vinegar-soft marrow,
into the badlands of dead soviets, where Fred
Hampton is always dying, dies and is resurrected.