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poetry I Confess

With the great frustration of politics in our times, the poet Pauletta Hansel concedes that the worst thoughts inevitably, spontaneously, come to mind.

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I Confess

By Pauletta Hansel

These days I think too much

about assassination, and let me just say

I have come down against it every time,

swatting it away, a plague-ridden fly

in my otherwise mild and law-abiding imagination,

and I do not accept the legal argument

that targeted killings are a country’s form

of self-defense, regardless of whether the target

will ever see the inside of a detention center,

and be faced with deciding, like thousands

of seven-year-olds, should the assigned Mylar blanket

go over or under on the mud-caked concrete floor.

Every time, I rise up on the right side of the question

though I have gone so far as to research the word:

From the Arabic, hashshashin, the Assassins of Persia,

perhaps so-named for the necessity of getting high

before slipping in the blade.  (In private,

some Border Patrol agents consider migrant deaths

a laughing matter; others are succumbing to depression,

anxiety, or substance abuse.*)

How, with or without the name, the act

is older than our ability to write it down.

How way back in the Old Testament,

there it was alongside the begetting and begats.

How in the Roman Empire, strangling in the bathtub

was the method of choice for murdering one’s king,

while, as you might expect, in Japan it was the sword.

Here in the US we, as always,

prefer the gun, and let me just say,

I do not and will not own one.

I confess only to the image in my mind

of the mongrel dogs of history lapping at the wound.

*The Atlantic, July 3, 2019

Pauletta Hansel writes: “I think the poem mostly speaks for itself, and that pretty much terrifies me.”