Stacia Fleegal

The War of All Against All

After Hobbes and a line by Glenn Sheldon

The day before we signed the social contract,

we are all at the anarchists' picnic

trying to figure out why no one

showed up. I bring egg salad sandwiches.

We are all at the anarchists' picnic

to learn Latin—bellum omnium contra omnes.

I showed up with egg salad sandwiches

but they were just smooth, fist-sized stones.

My Latin omits bellum, contra. Omnes

I understand. We can't all agree on

whether they're smooth, fist-sized stones

or bats or bludgers used for beating rebels.

I understand we can't all agree, but

let's at least eat. No (yes)? A food fight, then?

Bats for bludgeoning and beaten rebels

abound in states of nature and of war.

Let's at least eat our words like food, and fight

tomorrow, the day we sign the social contract.

Is it a state of nature or of war?

Who tries to figure it out, and why? No one.

Instruction Manual for a Revolutionist

Don't be afraid of paper cuts or bullet holes,
or people who don't consider these the same.

You carry the cosmos in your eyes and ears.
It is they who should fear you, pilgrim.

This is about waiting: watch the dollar fall,
the sun rise, all things certain. In the meantime,

learn a trade. Religion is helpful only
to those who can't do magic, who huff

and puff and gasp, then call it sin. Eat
with gusto. Sit in coffee shops and people-watch,

hear inanities' ease, slow-drip anger—stay
with me, here, I've seen what you'll say

kills, but I've seen it save. Rage can rage on
against age and playing safe, silence and chafed

lips bitten straight. Seek not to build bombs
in these folds, but to change into your kamikaze

cape and be one, or a dragon. Study.
Make love. Memorize the constellations, then

chart new ones with pegs on which to hang
this list, so when you've finished, you can

burn these pages. They'll never think
it was you, pretty decoy: flammable flesh.

Stacia M Fleegal's first collection of poems, Anatomy of a Shape-Shifter, is forthcoming in 2010 by WordTech. She is a graduate of Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing program. In 2007, Finishing Line Press released a chapbook of her poems called A Fling with the Ground. Individual poems have appeared in many journals, most recently Comstock Review, Inkwell, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Minnetonka Review, 42opus, White Pelican Review, and New Verse News, and are forthcoming in Dos Passos Review and the anthology Women. Period.: Women Writing About Menstruation (Spinsters Ink Press, 2008). She is co-founder and managing editor of the online literary journal Blood Lotus, a poetry editor for New Sins Press, and the coordinator of the journals department at the University of Nebraska Press.

(author retains copyright)