“Tunnel Vision.” A Poem by Peter Mishler

From His New Collection, “Children in Tactical Gear”

May 3, 2024  By Peter Mishler

To what wide, deep, clean, carpeted,
deforested multiuse conference room
would you compare this valley, this vale,
this trench, where the vertebrates,
world-weary, checking their wearables,
dig in their gutters, their spoons in the loam,
to carve out their shelters, their compounds, their holes,
their affordable housing for loyal staffers,
for thought-leaders, lawyers, data-collectors,
their property brothers and land developers,
maybe a moldable least-loved son,
their man-caves for congressmen only aroused
when splitting the field mouse in half in their hands,
their he-sheds for those of the Living Word,
unwillingly vaxxed for travel abroad,
who bring licensing contracts where there is cash,
if we must for our unreached peoples, yes, Lord,
if we must for our unbanked peoples, yes, Lord,
for we see you seeing us here in our garrets,
deep in our wellnesses, journaling, coloring,
juicing, in sound baths and energy consults,
vision boarding, recording our children,
cryopreserving our furbaby’s eggs
in a tumbler by Yeti forever and ever,
the spoons in our hands making circular blisters,
the blisters, when lanced, that weep out a fine data,
that leak out our streetviews, health portals and vitals,
our buying behaviors, PINs, and our socials,
as each of our selves are drunk out of our hovels,
we take our own heads in our hands and we pick,
and we pick and conceal, and pick and conceal,
our concealer, we call it industrial lighting,
with no desire to feed another, with ten free articles
monthly remaining, our headshots appearing
on Meet Our Team pages, and Meet Our People,
and Meet Our Board, with one hundred navy blue
suits to our bodies, with one hundred navy blue
suits to our backs, we shake out our full heads
of hair flecked with paint, from the State’s rotunda
flaking its paint, we, who are stricken and rashed and drained
from this making a living, this honest day’s work,
this getting our hands dirty, keeping our heads down,
and yet we get better so soon! so soon!


Children in Tactical Gear

From the collection Children in Tactical Gear by Peter Mishler. Originally published in Lana Turner Journal. Used with permission of the press, University of Iowa Press. Copyright 2024 by Peter Mishler.

Peter Mishler
Peter Mishler
Peter Mishler is the author of two collections of poetry, Fludde (winner of Sarabande Books' Kathryn A. Morton Prize) and Children in Tactical Gear (winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press in Spring 2024). His newest poems appear in The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Iowa Review, and Granta. He is also the author of a book of meditative reflections for public school educators from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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