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August 1929

by: James Cihlar

“I was their plaything and their idol, and something bet er—their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by Heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me.”

—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Living in the gut of a machine,
we are raised by invisible corporations.
The greatest good for the greatest number. Who does the counting?
Today is the anniversary of the abandonment
of an American city, a bureaucracy of errors. Lacking the confidence of the medium’s familiar,
the ghost in training devotes herself instead
to a scientific study of evil. Good luck. Using the sense of touch,
I want to find Miss Isabella’s springer Fanny
lynched with a kerchief on the moors. Victor gives life to his monster
but denies him the right to pursue happiness,
so the monster denies Victor both. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.
Evil is a face as familiar as Ingrid Bergman’s,
the senator from Colorado told us. Willa Cather can’t help me here.
Take me to the Northwest Passage,
the illusory amplitude of white.