Nicole Walker

Where the Elect Get Lost

white lights he stood at
the edge of
the stage and of command, gasping about
his fantastic demons. Then he blew dust over
audience-heads and floated into

  Later, I talked to
him in the greenroom about
his victory. What did he hide under
his fingernails? What did he throw at
his crowd of
enemies-how did he win them over?

The contest was over.
And I began to understand the dangerous pull of
the man. He had just coaxed us to
sleep. It was all about
sleep-a hypnotist, taking us under
was what he was good at.

He was also good at
persuasion. As I was about
to leave, he talked me into
going with him-out the door, and over -
land, into the forest. I was under
the impression, this wasn't a thing I could get out of.

Then I knew what he was capable of--
too late-blurry dust, not magic. Under
a dark moon and stars that had turned to
masses of lint, he pointed his gun at
me. Then came to me. With a rock, he knocked me over
and then commenced to pound my eyes out.

The stars weren't about
to amass in shield over
me. A shot bangs into
the forest floor in the United States of
America. As a sea of dirt clots at
the edges of my mouth, I go under.

I was, at once, about, and into, the gun.
I was now over and under
the gun. Of gun and loss, gun won.

Nicole Walker is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree at the University of Utah. She has published most recently in New American Writing, Puerto del
Sol, and Barrow Street, has poems forthcoming in Ploughshares and Fence and has twice won the Larry Levis prize (the little one, not the big one). In
addition to teaching at the university, she is poetry editor for Quarterly West.