What Does That Make You?

a muzzle pointed your way pops flat,
away, it echoes;
the round that gets you you won’t hear.

– Doug Anderson

Listen closely to the silence
or to the sounds of what is happening
just before the first shot. (Or perhaps
before the first gun). Because

this weapon is automatic, it will be hard to hear
the silence or what was happening before
the first shot (or gun) after the first shot.

Maybe you think it’s fireworks at first
or a parade of backfiring vehicles.

Do you duck or run or remember and attempt to enact
that superhero dream in which you take down the shooter?

There goes the whiteboard (the blackboard in
the underfunded district); there goes the ketchup;
there goes the speaker stack, a laptop, a small hand,
a plastic cup of beer; there goes the mixed media
collage, an eye, the back of a head, a knee, the
late edition, a shoulder, a heart.

You mean bullets don’t just make neat round holes?

The ketchup is blending with the blood.
The shot eye is oozing out to see. (Is the shooter
reloading – is it safe to run? or tackle him now – where’s
my cape, my tights, my dream journal? Does he
have kryptonite?)

Today the flag is at the top of the staff.
Tomorrow halfway to the bottom.
It should be upside down until the
scoundrels suckling at the muzzle
of loaded NRA money orders lose
their seats or die or both.

Either will do.

Who cleans up the body parts, blood and other fluids
each time this happens? Do they lobby Congress too?
Are they secretly praying for more work? Or are they
underpaid civil servants scouring a nation’s shame?

Theirs might be a lucrative American enterprise
like oxycodone in a culture perfectly designed
for mass shooting cleanup companies, addictive
pain killers and antidepressants.

Pain and depression are reasonable responses
to a sick society, wherein if you are well-adjusted,
what does that make you?
Ask Krishnamurti.

Addicted oblivion is a senseless, profitable
trade for understandable pain and depression
in response to a sick culture. What does
that make you?

There’s an ear, a finger, a perforated
popcorn bucket. The melted butter is
blending with the blood and the ketchup
doesn’t care.

What’s left of the lesson plan, the song,
our common prayer, the shopping cart,
the flickering illusory images on the
screen, is up against the wall
street prophets who preach

to the shooter and the shot,
the addiction and the cure, the
promise and the break, oblivious
to the goodness, truth and beauty
lost with each body broken,
heart stopped, soul released.

Listen closely to the silence
and to the sounds of what is happening
just before the first shot.

Do you duck or run or remember and attempt to enact
that superhero dream in which you take down the shooter?

You won’t hear the round that gets you.

How well do you adjust if you survive?

What does that make you?

__________

Epigraph from “Doc” by Doug Anderson. The Moon Reflected Fire. Cambridge: Alice James, 1994.

Copyright © 2019 by Reggie Marra

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