We were certain then that we’d be
a success in life, that we’d drive
the kind of cars our fathers
only dreamed of as our mothers
chuckled about mid-life crises.

They spoke about sons and daughters
of friends who were doctors,
or at least lawyers, bemoaned
those who taught or held jobs
they called manual labor.

But we were going in a whole different
direction, we would eschew medicine,
reject law, for we would be titans
of retail, and one day we would have
too many lemonade stands to count.


We have police for almost everything
these days, ports and airports, cities, towns
transit authorities and those whose beat
is good taste or lack of it.
Most enforce laws, some merely
regulations, a few making them up as they go.
My phone rang this morning, an 800 number,
And knowing better, I answered it.
It was a bank, one where I have never
had an account, telling me there was a problem
with my ATM card and I needed to call
immediately to reactivate the card.
Unfortunately I didn’t write down the
the call back number, and now
some poor scammer is sitting by his phone
with time on his hands, imagining
the free meals he might have had
doing federal time for wire fraud.
If only there were the telephone police,
but they have all gone to work
for the NSA, recording my callback numbers.


On December 14, 1992, a shooting occurred at Simon’s Rock College. At around 10:30 pm, Wayne Lo, a student at the school, shot and killed one student and one professor, and wounded three students and a security guard. His SKS rifle soon jammed and Lo later surrendered to authorities without further incident. The people killed in the shooting were 18-year-old Galen Gibson and 37-year-old Ñacuñán Saez.


He walks in calmly
as though surveying the room.
His head is shaved as it was
a year ago, but he has let it
grow out on the top.
The food has been good to him
thick across the chest and gut.
The sport coat changes daily,
yesterday blue, today
an olive green.
Most of the time he sits
hands folded, stares
impassively at the witness
or pulls on his ear lobe.



There is a large map
of the campus, blown up
to show buildings and roads.
Where is the blood,
where are the screams that tore
through the night, the flames
of the candles, the tears.
Bucolic, black, white,
red, cold and dying.



She reads from the sheaf
of pages from the pad,
questions, each directed
none overly obvious
repetition.  Drone.
Harping on pin heads
dancing, words as projectiles,
in targets or shattered
on the floor.



The judges stare down
from the oak paneled walls
at the jury, the audience
those who gawk those
who were victims, or family.
What do they know of our pain,
our blood spilled, sitting calmly
on the bench surrounded
by dust crusted leather tomes
in which are stored
the blood of our forebears.



Juror number 12
sits with her arms
folded across her chest
and bores into
defense counsel
“don’t be nasty,” her eyes
warn, “we like him,”
the witness, “and
don’t like your bitchiness.
Don’t lean over him,”
her face says,
it’s impolite.



They whisper like pack rats
crowded around the desk
the hand motion of squirrels
holding nuts against the chill
none wishing to fall behind
or be lost, all begging
the nod and the smile.



How do you sit so still,
arm on the chair
their blood, still dripping
from your hands
their cries in your ears
drowned by your laughter.



The one eye stares
the foam wrapped ear
is poised
blind and deaf.



I sit and shiver
in the cold
that pours
from your eyes,
no ember burns
in the recesses
of your heart,
my collar cuts
into my neck,
the hairs bristle
at the sight
of the fingers
that drew the bow
and pulled back
on the trigger.



He smiles only
when the jury
is out of sight,
more of a snicker
in response
to a comment
from his attorney.
A shroud falls
in advance
of the jury
and he is fixed
as statuary.



He holds the gun
and shows them,
benign, although
appropriately black,
hardly a tool
that might spit death
in the night,
ripping legs, cleaving
chests, piercing head
tearing lives apart.
It was doing
what it was designed
to do, with mechanical
efficiency and stoicism.



“There are 5 to 7 hundred
firearms in my store
at any given time,”
some will give pleasure
others power, but all
may bring maiming
or death.



The U.S. flag
stands draped
over its pole, still
sharing, perhaps,
our mourning.



Administrative minutiae
clogs the bowels
of both college
and the Court.
Constipated, bloated
until the shit
explodes, peppering
all within
the target area.
Still he stares
and holds the pen
against his chin.



Words for blood
Words for screams
Words for torn flesh
Words for shattered bone
Words seeking reason
Words giving motive
Words for tears
Words echoing
off ears and falling
in deafened silence.



Day three
same green blazer,
beige pants, same
stony visage.
Screams still echo
despite another sidebar.



“I thought I heard
him call someone nigger
but he said he didn’t,
so I let it drop.”
He was always respectful
but somewhat quiet.
We got along all right.
He changed a bit
(at which point
truth yields to formality)
We later had a conflict.
Why would he threaten
my wife and kids,
what had they done?
Unanswered questions



Calm, another bullshit meeting
ding one student for burning a note
on someone else’s door.  Anger
for one gets dinged, I get a fine.
In your face, up yours, soon enough.
Escape and hide, he’s coming,
children down, out the back
and next . . .  and next



They are shown
captured on film
in two dimensions
still, not in pools
of blood on the cold cement
or slumped over the wheel,
the car in a snowbank,
brains on the window.