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stuffed dead babies -- until the mail comes

by Michael McNeilley

stuffed dead babies

sold as dolls.
we can't keep them on the shelves
said one toy store owner.

most of us hate
the idea of selling
stuffed dead children

but if we don't carry them
our competition will.
we can't afford to lose customers.

who's the victim here?
asked a toy manufacturer.
the babies are already dead.

we import the corpses
from india
bosnia and biafra,

they're orphans,
or they were,
with no living relatives.

why just dump them in a hole
when they can bring joy
to another child? he asked.

the skin is cleaned
with a special
germ-killing solution;

a tag says do not expose
to rain or excessive heat or
direct sunlight.

a child can't get anything
more realistic
than an actual dead baby

another toymaker said.
though the eyes are
glass replicas.

until the mail comes

I watch television
thinking this might be the answer
but my head won't empty into the noise
other pictures overlay the screen
you and your dancing dogs
you standing by an abandoned shack
your hair blown back
and I change the channels
hold down the button until
things strobe past flashing
a luminous nothing rainbow

in the back yard there is snow again
ice droplets on the window
microcosms of trees and sky and
one small bird picking at an old glove
looks up at me

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