Forced | Samantha Duncan

Milk goes bad on a weekly loop. We begin
to envision digital atomic narratives
with festive chyron as decorative additions

to seasonal mindfuck. Research shows
we’re medicating. A condition that’s amorphous
as cotton candy that never disappears

What we relearn during it: how to knead
something other than our time. An intimacy
with want. How to abandon wish

and sew it to a cumulonimbus
the way children exhaust the adhesive
on an entire book of stickers.

We hear the birds now as if for the first time,
but this is a new thing to learn, the illusion
of life – you’ve put the birdsong underwater.

As if we’re losing baby teeth over and over.
As if the bullet with butterfly wings
means a slowing of violence, oh no.

It just relocates when it needs to,
from the school to the home, from the streets
to the body, from the church to the prayers.


(this poem uses a song title that belongs to Smashing Pumpkins)

Samantha Duncan is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Playing One on TV (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2018) and The Birth Creatures (Agape Editions, 2016), and her work has recently appeared in BOAAT, SWWIM, Kissing Dynamite, Meridian, and The Pinch. She is an Assistant Editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and lives in Houston.

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