Shell Games
poems by Noel Sloboda

"Winter of the Campaign"

DEFCOM 2 last week
each house on the block
displayed a warhead,

studded with green
and red, in the middle
of the front room,

signaling imminent
apocalypse. Heat
blasting as I drive by

on tree collection day,
I almost imagine
thaw might be near

but ranks of the fallen
lining the street
remind me just how

slowly seasons change.
Some wear plastic shrouds,
others lie naked,

limbs akimbo
in pools of brown. Killed
more than a month ago

then duped by little drinks
into thinking they lived,
they were decorated

like heroes home from the front,
ringed by bright offerings,
crowned by messengers

from heaven and wrapped
in a warm electric glow.
Now the New Year has come

and their utility has ended.
Shoved to the curb, they might
take bitter solace

in all the needles left behind
in joints of hardwood floors
to prick careless soles throughout

the rest of winter.