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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?