The Salesman

By George Polley

A manufacturer’s rep at a cluster bomb trade show
explains on camera how these weapons are designed
to avoid civilian targets and focus only on military ones
seen from thousands of feet above.

He looks into the camera’s eye
and says in all seriousness,
like a man delivering a sermon
that "these weapons are very effective
and are available to anyone with cash

and the proper credentials," as if the
transaction is the kind of behavior
that ordinary, sensible people engage in
every day. Canisters filled with violence

are marketed like the latest model toaster,
very effective in providing toast, and without
the cleanup older models required.
They do provide toast … in a way.

What does this say about us as a society,
as men and women that we can explain such
weapons so blandly, as if they are nothing?
What does it say about our future as a species,

about the winsomeness of hope in a small child’s
eyes? The wail of a mother … and a father?
What does it say about you … and about me?

– George Polley lives in Sapporo, Japan. He contributed this poem to

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