summer shrapnel

painter’s jeans on and hair all tied up, it’s june

and i’m told there was a gunshot on elizabeth street.

babies on a dandelion wagon hit with partial bullet shell.

my mother sips her lemonade in that transitory heartbreak,

then tends back to the garden before handing me

a bowl of green beans to snap.

my father almost named me remington.

every man in my family has been thrown in the county jail

for spotlighting deer, and the boys i know tell me that

i am very smart but we need guns to overthrow the government.

so we need AR-15’s? and then a no, i didn’t say that, exactly-

did the things we’ve grown deserve to bleed?

and they can’t pull an answer out.

every day, another name.

traffic stop, sunday service, matinee, there’s no escape, so

i go to bed in a lullaby of cicada purrs and then the shooting

starts again. it emanates from an empty house two blocks down,

where the front yard is knee bruise-high and impalas with headlights

turned off pull into the weather-beaten driveway come nightfall.

fireworks, i say, lying in heat. wipe the sweat. turn the cheek.


the fourth of july is another month away.


This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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