crown.jpg!Large 1983
How I Avoid Assassination and You Can, Too
by Paul Jones

I dress like everyone else.
I walk, indistinctly,
in an easy confident gait.
Prepare my own food.
or if I must, I use a taster.
When choosing friends, I avoid the lean
and the hungry and the ambitious.
I’m careful about suppressing troublemakers;
they will go underground
and become more desperate.
I know exactly where I’m going,
particularly in contested territories.
While not often feasible,
isolation is preferred.
Surprise appearances thrill crowds
and confuse my adversaries.
I select taller bodyguards
which in my case is no challenge.
Armored limos attract
bombs and missiles.
Statistically, you are safer on foot.
Stay away from tall buildings.
Select bodyguards for their loyalty
whenever possible.
Use unarmed agents
for forward intelligence.
Only arm a few of bodyguards—
never the same ones each time.
Increasing the number of bodyguards,
like increasing the number of lovers,
can have a strong negative effect.
Risks can never be eliminated,
only managed and minimized.
Don’t be overconfident.
Don’t become paranoid.
I always consider multiple exit points.

IMAGE: Crown by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1983)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Writing is now my job. I go to my office. I sit down. I ask the duende for guidance. I drink coffee. I read a poem I’ve never read before. In the case of this poem, I remember things that were told to me. Maybe in southeastern Turkey. Or Guadalajara after the Archbishop was killed. Or in northwest India.

jones p

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Jones’ poetry has been published in Poetry, Broadkill Review, Red Fez, Journal of American Poetry, and in other journals and anthologies, including Best American Erotic Poems (1800-Present). Recently, he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Web Awards. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common. A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon’s surface in 2019. Visit him at