The earthquake in this case was

A seismic storm that knocked down
buildingsā€”the buildings teetering before falling
the way ideological beliefs might sway back and forth

if they were preserved in a glass tower
that was about to be toppled. In any storm,
one hopes he or she is bound in advance

by the story line to escape at the end. In speech,
the mouth becomes a wheelbarrow
that can assert its contents.

The tool-and-die exactitude of pre-packaged thought
is estranging because it suggests
the discrete elements can't be teased apart.

Blind faith relies on an obedience that verges
on boredom. Any disquiet, however slight, might
define a moment like a character's obsessive cough

might define a character by exploding
when it shouldn't. It keeps exploding just when
it shouldn't and when it does it acts in the story

like a glass box cracked by a hammer that breaks
and becomes a broken box. In both situations,
action releases the stale air encased there.

And now the question: what do we do with the longing
for what can destroy us? You're free to think:
logic can change even the most obstinate person; or,

logic cannot change the most obstinate person.

To read more poems by Mary Jo Bang, click here to buy jubilat 24.