Monday, October 2, 2017

Shootings (6 Poems)


Aurora 

Is that the humming of a god or a fallen angel that he hears? 
There is so much white noise that it is deafening.
It comes in waves.
As he sits in the courtroom,
his hair dyed red and orange, his mind wanders.
He is not dreaming. He is wide awake.

He sees things no one else sees.
He heard sirens
wailing months before the killing.
He saw pools of blood at his feet.
He saw birds trapped in a cave with no way out.
(Schizophrenia is a diagnosis but not an explanation.)

A woman holds a white rose and prays for the dead,
others join her,
their heads bowed in sorrow.
A newborn baby is placed on his father's belly.
He does not know his child is there.
He is in a coma.

There is a bandage over his eye where the bullet
entered his brain.
A ventilator helps him breathe.
He does not know that twelve died
in the back of theater nine.
He does not know how the movie ended.

Is that the humming of a god or a fallen angel that we hear?
There is so much white noise that it is deafening.
It comes in waves.
Our minds wander. We are not dreaming.
We are wide awake.
We see things that no one should ever see.




The Death of JFK

Even before I learned
to stand or walk without some help,
I was already able to decipher the paradoxical truth
of the televised image—that the images
were an illusion.
Ghosts. Snowy pictures that talked.
Faces and pictures I eventually could control
and manipulate with the turn of a dial,
a surrogate memory where whole generations
were consigned to a cathode ray tube;
a world where images were transposed
into myth, and I could become a companion
to the likes of Lois Lane, Clark Kent,
Hercules and the Lone Ranger.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky,
so the bubble top was removed.
The president beamed and waved to the crowds.
The first lady was dressed in a pink suit
and matching pink pill box hat.
Together they floated down Elm Street
in a midnight blue Lincoln Continental,
a carriage for a handsome prince
and his bride.
Mountain climbers call the top of a mountain,
the death zone.
Unknown to anyone in the crowd,
the presidential limousine invisibly
passed into that zone.

Jackie tried to turn back but it was too late.
Soon after, the rumors began.
There was talk of Castro, the CIA and the mob.
Vietnam was engulfed in flames.
RFK and Martin Luther King were shot down.
Images of the dead were broadcast nightly.
The TV was full of ghosts,
but it wasn't a fantasy, it wasn't a myth.
It began with the death of a prince
and his widow in a blood stained, pink suit.
They are still with us.
It is going on now.
We see her, we see him, transfigured,
ascending into the clouds.



Nowhere Man (The Killing of John Lennon)

Red lights flash, sirens blare, a blue
and white police cruiser flies across Manhattan.
Over his fallen and broken body,
John Lennon floats,
John Lennon
hovers.
His mind flashes back to when he was a boy
and a band played behind the wall of his garden.

Debilitated by paranoia and delusions,
Mark David Chapman harassed Hari Krishnas
and threatened
Scientologists.
He sent telegrams to Satan.
Outside his holding cell, he is fitted with a bullet proof vest.
“No fuck ups. No Oswalds.”
The police commander calls out.

We are buried beneath falling ashes.
We hear the tinkling keys of a piano.
We hear a voice.
Like a hummingbird, it feeds on flowers and honey.
Our minds flash back to when we were children
and a band played behind the wall of our garden.
John Lennon floats, John Lennon
hovers.



The Eighth of December

It was the eighth of December.
This is what I remember.
This is what they said:
John Lennon had been shot.
John Lennon was dead.

It could have been George C Scott.
It could have been anyone.
But a psycho with a gun
had snuffed out the sun.
Yoko took to her bed.

John Lennon was dead.
It was the eighth of December
That is what they said.
This is what I remember:
John Lennon had been shot.
John Lennon was dead. 

 

She Once Believed in Happy Endings

Once a stone has been dropped
into the depths of a green and living pond,
it cannot be recalled, the action cannot be undone;
it has become a part of that green continuum.
Reality has been changed,
altered, rearranged.

I met him in the eighth grade.
He took LSD on the weekends and was already
a guitar virtuoso. 
He loved the early Yardbirds, jazz and blues. 
He taught me how to jam.
He once fired me from a junior high band

but he was always kind. 
Years later a storm blew in.
Voices roared in his head.
He wanted to banish them to the darkness.
But how could he win
against such a big wind? 

Where could he begin?
Wishes changed nothing.
So he taped his ID 
to his wrist and put a gun
to his head
and squeezed the trigger until he was dead.

Each night his mother longs to dream of her only son,
before the voices and the gun.
She once believed in happy endings 
but no more,
not without her son, 
not in a world undone.



Advent 2012 (Newtown Connecticut)

The silhouette of a paper angel is projected on the wall.
The world is full of tinsel and sorrow.
We walk with wands of light in our hands, candles for the dead.

When I was six years old I heard the news that the president
had been shot, that JFK was dead
but I didn't have to face the death of my twin.

We teach our children to say their prayers
before they go to sleep 
but how can we prepare them for this?

The Westboro Baptist Church threatens to picket the funerals.
They are not followers of Christ.
They do not mourn.

The silhouette of a paper angel is projected on the wall.
The world is full of tinsel and sorrow.
We walk with wands of light in our hands, candles for the dead.