White phosphor we wait for winter.
People go. Inside the house sarin gas
I know a village spills out into sky
while a man pumps his gas america-
stubborn. White phosphor my arches
itch, my blood carried by mosquitoes
as fruits grow carried by an earth.
People go. I’m not ready for the seasons
to turn sideways while we war.
Everything happening in my life
shows great indifference like a cow
anticipating its hunger and graze.
A child with its mouth open to blank.
Many children with their mouths open to blank.
I am learning to trap my hunger
in parrot cages, its mimetic squawks
pathetic, a noise I don’t feel sorry for
when I burn its source. Sarin
fathers the limp limbs against
the heat. People go. Sarin tears up
and decomposes rapidly, please
don’t talk about the leaving group.
Continue braising the pork. I plunge
my hunger into a well, the claws
tightening around the bars.
Not even an inkling wants to drown.
The politics of a great felled tree
quickly become its apolitics
the way a metaphor tenors to itself
in the face of mass killings.
It’s the dull pain in my chest
that is bipartisan, the rouse and glitch
of meat and thread; the son I dream
dumbly curled before the suctioning.
I lie to your faces because truth
should have a martyr, the days
break their necks against
the raised barracks and dissolve
at the edge of a galaxy so what sarin
would it matter the hands the lips
the nerves awake always awake
until nothing, no one, never.
Routine is a balm I smooth over
in the chemical room. People go.
Natalie Eilbert’s first book of poems, Swan Feast, is forthcoming from Coconut Books. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Tin House, West Branch, Handsome, and many others. She lives and writes in Brooklyn, where she is the founding editor of the Atlas Review.
“The Arsenal Theater” was originally published in The Glutton’s Kitchen (TLR Summer 2014)