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  Table of contents Issue Twenty LICENSING THE DEMONS


Each has to list his
Or her certifications.
I can challenge them,
Ask for training documentation;
But, for the sake of time,
I keep my curiosity
To a minimum. There is
A questionnaire each fills out:
Name. Serial Number.
Summoner. Why are you applying
For this license? Do you hold
Similar licenses elsewhere?
Special abilities. Years
Of experience. Uncommitted
Talents. During the wait-time
While all of this
Is checked against public records,
We grant a provisional license.
With a provisional license
The demon can do exactly
As he or she would do
On a permanent license.

This is all pretty much
Just an exercise in bureaucracy.

The demon is what the demon
Says the demon is, unless
There is irrefutable proof otherwise.
And punitive opportunities are few.
Each demon takes a number,
And there are waiting chairs
Bolted together at the back legs.
The most junior staffer
Has to call out the next number
Three and only three times.
His or her voice stills
The nervous rustling, and the demons
Draw their feet inward
To create the perilous balance to stand, even
When they know they do not hold
The number that will be serviced next.

In my spare time,
Sitting at my desk behind
Stacks of unwanted paper,
While needed demons queue
Only yards away,
I check my own license,
Then the licenses of my co-workers.

It grounds us all.




Ken Poyner has lately been seen in “Analog”, “Café Irreal”, “The Journal of Microliterature”, “Blue Collar Review”, and many wonderful places. His latest book of bizarre short fiction, “Constant Animals’, is available from his web, www.kpoyner.com, and from www.amazon.com, but his money-making trade is information technology. He is married to Karen Poyner, one of the world’s premier power lifters, and holder of more than a dozen current world power lifting records. They are the parents of four rescue cats, and two senseless fish.

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