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Francesca Bell

Your Hands, Instruments of God

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You stalked them on treacherous
streets where they paced
the lit corners like zoo animals
their inadequate enclosures.
From the darkness encircling
like a snare, you emerged,
and took them to river's green edge,
to forests' hushed cathedrals.

You filled them
first with your sex,
then with a dread
that swept through
and erased everything,
the way the spirit
of the Almighty cleanses
a new convert.

You liked feeling
the pulse in their throats,
imagining the hearts'
wild beating
against the ribs' cage.
You needed both hands
to break the clasps holding
the new life closed.

The Curator

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Jeffrey Dahmer, unable to conform
his conduct to the requirements of law,
killed seventeen men and dismembered them.
Sometimes, he dissolved the pared flesh
in acid and flushed it down the toilet.

Other times, he ate the hearts
and livers, biceps, a portion
of meaty thigh. The bones
he sometimes pulverized and scattered,
sometimes soaked in bleach to keep.

When police searched his apartment,
they said it was less crime scene
than museum installation: two skeletons,
a scalp and seven skulls, one man's head
and genitalia acetone-preserved.

In prison, he asked the chaplain
was forgiveness even possible for him?
The chaplain didn't hesitate.
The Lord, he told him, makes no exceptions.
Jeffrey Dahmer did not resist

while the inmate with the metal bar
bludgeoned him to death. He waited, patient
on the prison's bathroom floor, for God
who gathers our shards, every splintered
fragment, into His boundless hands.

In Which I Imagine George Washington Considering His False Teeth

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Sometimes I visit the stables
wearing my best set
and find her.

Milking, maybe,
black hands quick
at the teats.

She kneels
when I approach.
We do not speak.

She is a wild thing,
all dark eyes
and instinct.

I unbutton and she
opens right up.
Turns out

I fit perfectly
in the gap made
in her gums.

She doesn't flinch
when I rest my hand
on her head.

She knows
I will not
hurt her.

While she is busy
at me, I run my tongue
over and over her teeth

in my mouth. Their hardness,
their unblemished

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