They Live

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They Live

by Ross White
Southern Cultures, Vol. 22, No. 4: Winter 2016

“How did They reach us so easily back in the day, on playgrounds, in convenience stores, at skate shops?

Now they say the Internet is being attacked by sharks.
They say. Them. You know who They are,
malicious backlit figures in high- backed chairs,
wearing jewel- crusted gold rings, stroking white cats.
Propagators of lies, of Buzzfeed listicles,
of the things that get said in hair salons,
They know who sleeps with who
and can feed you inside stock tips.
Now They’re letting us know that the cables
laid carefully in the ocean’s bed,
at the wet crust of the earth,
are besieged by these boneless blood machines.
At this point in the writing of the poem,
I want to do some more research on sharks.
I know they’re composed mostly of cartilage,
have cavernous rows of teeth,
and will gorge on dead whales, ripping away strips
of tender blubber with an unmatched frenzy.
At this point in the writing of the poem, I wonder if there is a good simile
for this frenzy, or if there is a good simile
for anything that is the most of its kind.
I begin to think that incomparable,
a word sometimes thrown around in Lexus commercials,
is the most damning word in the English language.
So I fire up two tabs of a web browser,
search terms ready—sharks and metaphors for sharks
only I reach a DNS error.
Miles of bite marks along the fiberoptics.
How did They reach us so easily back in the day,
on playgrounds, in convenience stores, at skate shops?
How, before smartphones and statuses,
could we so easily have heard?
Without knowing it, we were all along part of the network,
the game of telephone, the great cables
of intrigue They laid, knowing that we could not help
but bang our heads against the strands,knowing that we’d go crazy
if we smelled just a little bit of blood in the water.

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