"Suicide Bomber Kills 8, Wounds 50"

"Suicide Bomber Kills 8, Wounds 50"

Dust covers the rims of picture frames,
coats the leaves of philodendron.

This dust mocks me,
armed with a wash cloth and can of Pledge.

The computer keyboard,
an alphabet of dust.

Dust inside my grandmother's teacups—

Invisible, dust keeps falling
from collapsed stars;

travels the globe, mingles with desert sand,
rises up from floorboards.

It penetrates my pores.
Soft and gray,

silent as the ash from cigarette
someone forgot was burning.

Jennifer Markell
Turning Point imprint, Wordtech Communications

"Suicide Bomber Kills 8, Wounds 50"
Jennifer Markell


what it means

Dust is covering everything, including me, and I cannot get rid of it.  That's the meaning if you don't read the title. But with the ripped from the headlines title added. . .war, fear, terrorism pervade every facet of our lives no matter how small and far away and domestically we think we are living.  We cannot escape the implications of what is happening half a world away.  Not just our surroundings but our very body is being invaded by the horrors of this war, and it burns us.

why I like it

Political poems are really hard.  I often want to say something deep and angry about current politics and end up sounding strident and shrill: down with the bad guys!  I like that this poem is so quiet.  It makes a point that I consider very important but does so through imagery not polemic.


The couplets and that one single line create a lot of white space.  I like how that helps create the sense of quiet and something unseen permeating the poem. 

There are a lot of "s" sounds in the poem.  From the repetition of the word "dust" obviously, but look at this line:

Dust inside my grandmother's teacups—

That lingering quiet sound mimics the lingering quiet dust, and like the hiss of a snake brings the threat of death. 

You can buy the book  directly from her website and have her sign it. Or you can order it from Amazon or Barnes and Nobel.