How to Change a Person’s Mind



The subject is the one whose views leave you seething.
He wears fatigues to dinner
and orders beef. His truck takes up two spaces
of the parking lot. The seats are draped with the flag
and a crucifix hangs above the dashboard.
You know what you need to; the question is

how to win his confidence. Pretend to agree
with him about something small,
like the need to be armed in dangerous times
or how much you appreciate
the president’s resolve. Wear him down
with reason, present the facts, offer the latest

body count. Should this not move him
and he tells you to leave
the country if you don’t like it here
you have to accept that language
is ineffective. Slip the potion
into his beer and wait for him to fall asleep.
Fetch your tools: the scalpel, the saw,

the inexhaustible box of tissues.
Cut open the skull, not the square window
the ancient Egyptians took
so as to get inside the mind,
but a circle from the top

allowing you to lift
the whole brain out
and wring it dry
of everything inside;

squeeze it, knead it, press it flat
and roll it
in your hands

it is cleansed. Put it back. Replace the cap of bone.
Hope he survives. Forgive yourself.



David Chorlton

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