Thirteen Ways of Looking at Our Problem (After Wallace Stevens)

I
After one hundred twenty-two dead schoolchildren,
The only changing thing
Is that no things have changed.

II
They are of one mind,
Like a target
In which there is one silhouette.

III
Our bullets whistle in the winter winds.
What small shells do they leave behind.

IV
A man and his God
Are one.
A man and and his God and his gun
Are one.

V
We do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of tension
Or the beauty of release,
The hands before pleading
Or just after.

VI
Caskets line the green lawn
While we defend barbarism.
The shadow of the law
Wavers to and fro.
The intent
Of the shadow
Is our infinite cause.

VII
O thin leaders of mortal men,
Why do you believe in possibility?
Do you not see how the base
Are swayed by the whims
Of the stories that surround them?

VIII
They speak the savior’s tongue
In unstoppable, rapid-fire rhythms;
But we see, now,
That the devil is involved
In everything they do.

IX
We bury the bodies out of sight.
We mark their memories
With one of many grey stones.

X
In the face of reason
Like a banshee’s scream,
The green bonds of fraternity
Keep us all muffled, weeping.

XI
We ride across America
In a silent ambulance.
Once, a fear shook us,
In that we took
The shadow of the law
As immutable.

XII
The tide is rising.
The dead are rising.

XIII
It was all over the evening news.
We were dying
And we were going to die.
Another active shooter leaves
His mother’s loving arms.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Our Problem (After Wallace Stevens)

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