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Paradise Lost/Paradise Found


Breathing in the aftermath

of the bloodbath

the cool breeze of Paradise is stinky with death.

Last night we climbed into bed cozy as clams

and stumbled into a morning

where the world makes no sense.

Where young men schooling their future

suddenly have none,

Where women detested for their beauty

are mocked and reviled,

— lose the rest of their lives.

What crazy Hollywood kid with a gun

believes he can kill?

Believes he must kill

because he can?

Where did we all go wrong?

We ask the question again and again

shaking our heads at nothing.

How many times?

we ask ourselves since the beginning of time,

must the cannon balls fly?

And if only the answer were “blowin in the wind,”

we could grab it from the air, hold it, and know it.

But no, there is no sense to make

there is no blame to lay at the feet

of the parents who birthed their babe

of the helpers who missed the signs,

of the patrolmen who went home that night,

unhooking holsters in the mirror,

shaking their heads and asking: “Why didn’t I?”

Over and over, “Why didn’t I?”

Who can make sense of gunshot wounds

where tattoos should be?

Who can make sense

of investing in higher education

and paying with a child’s death?

Paying to know what no child should know,

of a world forever changed

by the lowest of the low,

bloodstained feet marking

every step taken from this day forward.

And even if the mind forgets, the body will remember

the earthquake, the avalanche, of trust falling down,

falling down to a place of despair where hope should rise.

Where young coeds

readying for commencement yesterday

are dressing for a funeral today.

We lock arms in memory, in grief, in disbelief.

We sing praises to the Lord and rage at the heavens.

We curse the government and the money that buys them,

point fingers at helpers who failed to help,

judge the parents, whose helpless we don’t buy.

Looking for blame, we are all culpable

for those moments of on-screen violence

and the violence of our inner soul.

The violence of not knowing how to forgive

and not taking time to help.

For road rage, burnout, texting, sexting, Facebook mockery,

downtown bullying, uptown stealing.

We are all culpable for the sins of the trigger if not

for the finger on the trigger.

We can study the brain,

but will never know the mind.

We can stand on the cliff and gaze at the horizon

but we will never touch it.

All we can do is move our bloody feet,

one in front of the other,

in Paradise lost,

where guns are still loaded

and fireworks still fired.

Where women walk in fear

and the lonely find no solace.

Where money trimmed from shelters,

buys flowers, flags and fireworks.

We wrap arms around the questions

when no answer appears,

as the filthy tracks that fade behind

color the road ahead,

and the human stain remains,

in Paradise found.

For David, George, James, Veronika, Katherine, Christopher

And their parents.

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