Archive for June 18th, 2010

Lice Eaters

By William Doreski

Years ago in Lindy’s Diner
we watched a woman pick lice
from her arms and eat them. Maybe
those lice were imaginary. But now
real ones have overtaken
the world. Everyone scratches,
shampoos, combs, shaves those regions
we’ve never learned to discuss.
Rimbaud’s sisters would find work
everywhere, peering and plucking
and crushing with powerful nails
the tiny punctuations. Shower
twice a day with deadly chemicals
and we find ourselves louse-free
in a lousy world. Avoiding crowds,
avoiding public places like bars
and churches, we retain our sterile
aura, but the general contagion
throbs like a pustule. The army
taught me to aggress against lice.
I recall the misery of men
in foxholes scratching desperately
while snipers zeroed on bobbing
and lice-riddled heads. Poison
and fine metal combs. Shampoos
reeking of kerosene. That woman
died two decades ago and willed
her lice to the world. Real or not,
they reproduced so vividly
everyone now enjoys them.
Shaven heads reflect the sunlight
in subtle prismatic colors.
We’re all lice-eaters now, blood-thirst
so general many go mad and drink
that deadly chemical shampoo,
sure that the nits are brain cells,
signs of genius run amok.

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