IN LOVING MEMORY (17 this time)

Just what will the puppet king say
or will he simply run and hide
as we are left to mourn and pray

Seventeen more are dead today,
we know better than to abide
just what will the puppet king say

more hollow words, for which they pay
“only more guns can stem the tide.”
As we are left to mourn and pray

children ask why there is a day
on which so many good friends died,
just what will the puppet king say,

what false compassion he’ll display.
As broken parents stand graveside,
as we are left to mourn and pray

we know the king dare not betray
those who bought him. We can’t decide
just what will the puppet king say
as we are left to mourn and pray.

 


Out of cycle, but coping takes many forms.

SKELETONS

Their corpses have been gathering dust
in the closet where I keep them,
in boxes, once neatly labeled, but
the collection has grown so large
I’ve given up any attempt at organization.
I do, periodically, take a glance
into the boxes, take a few out
and carefully consider them, but
heeding the proscription, I always
put them back into their box.
Fortunately these corpses have
no discernible odor, and no one
who hasn’t peered in the closet would
imagine that simple cardboard boxes
would be replete with such corpses.
Still we need the room, so it is time
to be truly rid of all these words,
but sadly though I wanted to ship them
to the person who caused their demise, I learned
William Faulkner left no forwarding address.

SCENES FROM A MURDER TRIAL (A PLAY WITHOUT ACTORS): ACT II

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.

XXI

The court officer
keeps a watchful eye
on the proceedings
and brings water
to the witnesses,
allowing himself
a smile only
during recesses.

 

XXII

It is odd discussing
a friend as history
sitting across a room.
He speaks softly
hands clasped in his lap.
Wayne sits impassively
as though watching a film.
Wayne smiles at the mention
of the hard core concert
and the jury understands,
as images of pornography
evaporate.

 

XXIII

Fourteen questions
and three photographs
are the summation
of a life left
in a snowbank,
bleeding over the wheel,
the window shattered
by the jacketed slug.
No articles written,
no lives touched
no mourning, no pain.

 

XXIV

A life in four movements
unfinished in mid allegro
the baton cracked on the podium.

 

XXV

Commonwealth’s Exhibit 29
a photographic reality.
the price of admission
your life.

 

XXVI

Stare, you bastard
as though nothing happened,
stare with that damned
blank look, stone faced.
Did you stare as you pulled
the trigger on her
twice, then twice again
or did you smile, knowing?
Did you stare at the car
as you shot out the window,
though he never saw you, but
did you smile, knowing?
Did you stare at the couple
when you said get the fuck out
or moments later when you
pulled the trigger, hitting him
in the chest as he ran out,
the good, if foolish, Samaritan
or did you smile, by now comfortable
with the pressure of the metal bar
on the back of your finger?
Did you stare into the dorm
and see him standing there
with his roommate,
were you still, rigid
as you fired, when they screamed
or did you smile when you saw
first one, then the other fall
only to crawl off to safety.
Stare all you can, stare
at the bars, the walls
until you wither
under their restless gaze.

 

XXVII

Day 4
brown tweed
same stare
hands still folded.

 

XXVIII

The trail of blood
ended at his body
curled on the floor,
the trail of tears
continued.

 

XXIX

The ME is a
cherubic, balding man
a gentle smile
whose life is spent
explaining unexpected death.
Why can’t he explain
why Galen and Nacunan
are gone, why the laughter
no longer fills the halls
their tears, their joys evaporated.

Don’t tell how they died,
we only want to know why.

 

XXX

Say something, do anything,
twitch, anything.
You played football with him,
you threw him the ball
for the last touchdown
that Saturday.  How can you
now sit there, listening
to him describe your bullets
that tore his legs apart
and do nothing, say nothing:
cold, emotionless.  Is that
how they instructed you?
And when he told of fearing
he might die if he lost
consciousness, hopping up the stairs,
as the jurors recoiled, wanting
to throw arms around him,
to shield him somehow from his scars,
you did nothing, never moved,
just stared at him.  Were you
proud of your handiwork
as he looked at his jeans
shredded by the EMT’s  scissors
once blue, now a mottled brown,
dyed by his blood, or that part
which did not pool in the hallway.
How could you sit and see this
and do nothing, say nothing?

 

XXXI

Day five
blue blazer
white shirt
same stare
hands folded.

 

XXXII

Upon examination, I
determined that the wounds
were consistent with
the entry of some missile,
into the leg.  It passed through
one thigh and then the other,
and then exited the body.
We were concerned because
there was a marked loss
of function in the left
lower extremity, that proceeded
quite rapidly, and we were
concerned that the nerve
might have been severed
or damaged, so we explored
and debrided the wound.
He was quite lucky, all told,
in that the projectile passed
close to the major nerve
but there was only severe
bruising, so we believed
he would regain use of the limb.
It could well have been fatal,
a centimeter or more one way
or the other and it would have severed
the nerve or the artery, and he
might well have exsanguinated.
There are the scars shown
on the photograph as a result
of the wounds, although
I have not followed the patient
since his discharge from my care.
Jagged scars, blood red
cross his legs, his face
twisted in pain, calling meekly
for a painkiller, trying to move
the foot, crying and smiling
as the toes moved, and the muscles
stiffened, needing to be rubbed
and looking, saying to himself
why me, while smiling at others.

 

XXXIII

He spoke to me calmly,
we talked about football
the game on TV that night
and he said he had shot
two people at the guard shack
two more at the library
and two more at Dolliver House.
He said he would have killed more
he wanted to but the rifle
kept jamming and he had
to discard the clips
as he moved through campus.
He wanted to teach them a lesson
but what he wanted most
was to give himself up, he was
very concerned that he
would be hurt so I assured him
that if he put the gun down
and walked out with his hands
interlaced over his head
he would not be harmed.

 

XXXIV

Day 15,
blue blazer,
the hair has grown
white shirt, pressed cuffs
and the same blank stare.

 

XXXV

The map of campus
sits in the front
of the courtroom
still, silent, peaceful,
the blood has dried
and been washed away,
the screams are trapped
inside the walls
awaiting release
into the night.

 

XXXVI

Criminal responsibility evaluation,
nuts or not, psychotic,
cold, calculating, drooling
smiling, shy, violent,
patient interviews, life
histories, friends, lovers,
Galen and Nacunan still dead
can’t speak on their own behalf.

 

XXXVII

He went to a Catholic school
and helped raise his brother
as his parents worked 16 hours
a day at the restaurant.
His father was hard, befitting
a retired military officer.
There was nothing remarkable
in his history that would
indicate anything abnormal
in his mental status.
He was cooperative, but had
a need to control the interview.
He promised honesty and told us
we needn’t question his veracity.
When we contradicted him or told him
we did not accept his story
he took strong exception,
that upset him, he wasn’t in control.
At most you could see some
indications of a personality disorder,
he had this tendency to be
a cold, heartless killer.

 

XXXVIII

A maladaptive narcissist
who makes bad choices,
an off-center view, always
the central figure,
diminishing others
will full metal jacketed
.762 caliber military rounds
from the core of the SKS rifle.

 

XXXIX

In the world of psychobabble
it is quite often lost
that there is a mind
cold and calculating, smiling
when the jury’s back is turned.

 

XL

There is a fine art
to the tying of Gordian knots,
and littering them
across the courtroom
but they are not always capable
of encasing the truth.

 

XLI

The voice of God spoke,
“Right the sins, act
as I have told you.”
What sort of God
would say “get the fuck
out of here” or is this
yet another new revelation.

SCENES FROM A MURDER TRIAL (A PLAY WITHOUT ACTORS): ACT I

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.


I

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.

 

II

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.

 

III

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.

 

IV

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.

 

V

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.

 

VI

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.

 

VII

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.

 

VIII

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

 

IX

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
repeatedly
on the trigger.

 

X

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.

 

XI

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.

 

XII

“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.

 

XIII

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

 

XIV

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.

 

XV

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.

 

XVI

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

 

XVII

“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
dominate.

 

XVIII

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

 

XIX

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.

 

XX

Direct
Cross
Redirect
Recross
confuse
befuddle
cry
mourn