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POETRY
Watching The Walking Dead After Your Mother's Diagnosis
Amy Watkins

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There is no magic bullet, just a knife,
though a knife will kill a zombie
if you’re brave enough and quick
and if there’s only one.

A knife will kill a zombie.
The hero shows us that a dozen times,
and if there’s only one
way out, you take it, fast.

The hero shows us that a dozen times.
It’s clear by now that violence is the only
way out. Take chances fast
enough, it looks like order.

It’s clear by now that prayer is one
of a hundred desperate measures.
Enough. It looks like order
if you don’t look close. He’s bit

and, of a hundred desperate measures,
chooses the knife: the hatchet the hero
wields. You don’t look close. You’re bit
by grief and the CGI looks all too real.

Choose the knife. The hatchet. The hero.
The myth of humanity’s loss and survival
of grief. The CGI looks all too real
when your mother calls again, repeating

the myth of humanity’s loss and salvation.
It comforts her. It does not comfort you.
When your mother calls again
you pause on an image of a severed leg.

You comfort her. I cannot comfort you.
Words fail me. No one says “zombie.”
No one pauses at severing a leg
and lives. We’re primitive creatures.

Words fail us. No one says “cancer.”
No one says how small our hopes are
and our lives. We’re primitive creatures
and so obsessed with death!

No one says how small our hopes are:
Just a little more. Just a little longer.
We are so obsessed with death
we can’t look away. We keep a sort of faith:

Just a little more. Just a little longer.
If you’re brave enough and quick,
you won’t look away.  You’ll keep a sort of faith.
There is no magic bullet, just a knife.


Amy Watkins is the oldest child of a nurse and a carpenter. When she was a kid, she wanted to be a doctor, a teacher, and a contestant on Star Search. She became a writer instead. She is the author of the chapbook Milk & Water (Yellow Flag Press, 2014) and the art editor of Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine.