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'On the day of': a poem in reaction to Seattle's deadly downtown shooting

"All I can cough up is grief."

Police Line tape

(Matt Rourke/AP)

On the day of

Sitting in Time’s hollow
surrounded by the fog of unknowns:
why
it’s always why.
There’s never a “good” reason,
nothing time wouldn’t have fixed.

Then, who?
Please gods of the universe

don’t let his skin be brown or black
endangering the lives of all our men
stripping their dignity down to never-healed lashes
from generations of guilt by association.

don’t let his skin be white
hot with displaced rage
masquerading as momentary madness
stoked by fascist flames
thrown by tongues straight from the fires of hell.

Somewhere a family is doubled over in piercing pain
their loss unprovoked, unexpected, unfathomable.

Somewhere a parent clutches their chest
praying, “Let my child not be the weapon”

Somewhere teachers bend
with the burden of comfort tomorrow will require

Somewhere tongues wag
unattached to thought

These rolling mists from the sea
choke my bronchial soul
until all I can cough up is grief
for our children
for our city
for our nation
for our world

Action will come in the morning
Now I turn back to Bob Ross
as he manufactures peaceful beauty from nothingness
and hope he is conjuring us a new world from beyond the grave
as the rain falls.

About the Authors & Contributors

Lola E. Peters

Lola E. Peters

Lola E. Peters is a contributing columnist covering politics, culture and social justice.