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.