Journalism In Verse

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Cryptology

in Opinion/Science & Tech by

The National Security Agency can’t catch me.
I’m hidden between the lines.
The babble on my telephone
is just to keep the channels open.
What’s flashing through my hippocampus
is enciphered. WhatsApp sold
my info to Facebook; the NSA raps
encryption’s back door; my neurons
still burn with unabated sedition.

The Central Intelligence Agency
can’t catch me. My plans
sink fathoms down into the Deep
State of Mind, opaque to lasers.
I reflect as shallowly as a puddle.
Under a fingernail moon, I cast spells
whispered into holes under allium,
pits among mushrooms, peat
preserving them from the CIA.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
can’t catch me. I’m a courier
for illegal thoughts, undocumented
desires, felonious intentions.
Migrant newts hide in my crawlspace.
The interiors of my lathe-and-plaster walls
swarm with ghazals and bachatas.
Argentine fire ants camp in my yard,
safe from ICE’s dragnet raids.

Customs and Border Protection can’t
catch me. I cross social boundaries
they can’t discern. Traffic across
my corpus callosum is inexorable.
What spills out my fingertips
can’t be turned away at my skull,
sent back to my cortex.
The CBP is helpless against me.
My country is undiscoverable.


Jan Steckel is a poet and former pediatrician. Her book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction. She has published two award-winning chapbooks: Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006). Her writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, California, “where we keep our fist in the air.”

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