Terese Svoboda
How to Save Yourself

I am a small African woman

who opens her mouth and screams

into the dense burning foliage where

in a night made bright

I hide


from bucktoothed slaughter.

Weapons click in harmony

not far enough off. To say

I flee suggests I know my way.

I step over


sleeping students

who won't survive the fire

that, leaping in and out behind me,

they have set themselves.

Then I am mute


in front of an elevator which opens

to a column of whiteness in a suit,

and a woman less like my sex

than a bitch is. The big guns are now

in service


and I am not the only one

who hears, though I say nothing:

my jaws ache to eat death

like a eat its litter.



I wish whiteness all over me,

and I am all white, the man offers

his tunnel out, the woman his hankie.

I am about to open my mouth Yes!

when what's approaching


makes them forget, leaves me

with myself, my white, white, white,

leaves me to the spit of the mob

that asks only

if I burn.

Found In Volume 27, No. 01
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  • Terese Svoboda
Terese Svoboda
About the Author
Terese Svoboda’s books include Black Glasses Like Clark KentTin God, and Treason (Zoo Press, 2003).