Issue 30 poetry

5,000 Ads a Day

by AC Dobell

A large mound of butter with a knife in it and two eggs beside it.
Mound of Butter by Antoine Vollon. Courtesy of National Gallery of Art.

I want to steal them all,
or own the rights to them
like an art collector.

Pluck them one by one
off the screens in Times Square,
watch them disappear
from the sides of highways.

I will spare only “Farm Fresh Eggs”
& the “Free Firewood” signs
because I am feeling generous.

I will leave up empty billboards
& screens the way we have been
left caracasses— bleached coral
& the hollowed bodies of addicts
that make up urban centers.

Because I am feeling generous
I will preserve their history,
fold their flags into boxes
& donate them to public archives.
I imagine one day we could gawk
at how backwards it all was.

In Shanghai, there’s a collection
of posters from the Cultural Revolution
displayed in some apartment basement.
It is inconspicuous, but it is there
for those curious enough to imagine
a world where people were so constantly
exposed to propaganda smiles.

It has given me an idea for how to display
our once inescapable logos,
but I will not tell you which ones
because I have plucked them too from this poem
& I will not be allowing photos.


AC Dobell is a Filipina-American poet and visual artist. She studied as a mentee of the Madwomen in the Attic writing program at Carlow University. Her work has been published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Voices from the Attic, Gasher, Eunoia, Rising Phoenix, and Mercado Vicente. She is a director at Mused, a collaborative exhibition for artists of varying mediums.