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by Jacqueline Henry


Smoke burnishes from a bull's tail,

his devil horns as white as the pale-

faced woman whose mouth hangs open

in anguish, a dead child cradled in her arms.

She beseeches the beast, pleading the case

of men—but what does it care? Suffering

is everywhere. Severed limbs leap

across a canvas, black and white screaming out


to sharpened shades of gray. Even the horse cries,

riderless under the blaring light of an evil eye

that sees all but understands nothing.

Not even what the painter reveals.


Faded newsprint in the backdrop—as if

erasure were even possible. What did the words

say? What would the painter say—now—to the nations?

His tapestry once hung behind a podium that no longer


clamors for peace? Who is the beast?