Niki Herd's God's Graffitti: Cave Canem 1996-2008 in this issue




Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths



Walking By the Duty-Free Shop at the Airport on Memorial Day


Niki Herd





Walking By the Duty-Free Shop at the Airport on Memorial Day


Sometimes honesty

Can be too much of a thing


Outside the tobacco shop

In the duty-free airport


Where in a window display

On plate glass, trimmed


With the shine of expensive things

Light seductively shines


On a carton of cigarettes that reads:

Marlboro—and then below


In bold black letters:

Smoking Kills—maybe


In the footsteps of great written history

I want to be lied to, to believe


That my existence is more important than

Gross profits and fear of lawsuits; the


Coolness of cool, that after-sex oral

Treat—run scooter, run scooter—let's


Give a dog a bone; but who am I kidding

Even if the words: Smoking Kills


Weren't there, there is still the silhouette

Of the cowboy, his hat, and horse riding


Westward, though we know what happened

There, and I'm not here to judge it, this is no


TV talk-show trial, see I'm a believer in enterprise

Understand the weight between a dollar and


A dime, but maybe I can't help but think

About the men dying at war, coffins lined


Like matchsticks on the desks of vice

Presidents and secretary of states, who


Sit on the boards of companies like

Shell and Sunoco, in the name of—


Truth—alliteration and accumulation


As gas prices rise tall and hard like good

Dick, and the dead rise together higher


Than those twin towers before that day—

Isn't it good to know, at this duty-free airport


That we can be in control of our own destiny

Manifest destiny—civilization, sophistication


Good will towards all sealed in a box as the near

Naked, blonde cardboard starlet hangs in the corner


Of the display blowing smoke rings into the air.





Dinnertime Back in the Day


My aunt the therapist calls it the art of fencing the way we kids beat down with  eyes anyone who dared to take that rare leftover lone pork chop on a plastic plate set like something to conquer We were the poor man's version of every man for himself stamped by green eagles and box cheese a time when clichés went broke like: blood is thicker than water We looked to jimmy carter and the good book though we had no definition for the word family We were bound because there was no one else because we had no sense to take knife and fork to divide and eat away what stood between us.