Shell Shock By Eliza Browning

Shell Shock

Because we are children, the untouchability
of our lives seems fragmentary, uncertain.

Remind me what softened us, casing by case,
until it rocked our bodies numb?

Out here we breathe church bells and lichen.
Out here we breathe crossfire and limestone,

the twenty-six flags at the fire station bleeding
into vision from the middle of December until

to first thaw of spring. East of the river, the
journalist writes, it’s like a different world.

With every frost we become children again,
huddling in the back of a school bus around a

single screen in a gray veil of snow, wondering
who would save us. Down south, in the shadow

of the Potomac, a girl and boy are digging by a river.
They’re scooping graves out of the mud and silt,

scraping shards of bark from beneath their fingernails,
burying what’s left of the past and everything yet unknown.

By Eliza Browning

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America

Biography:

Eliza Browning is a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Connecticut. She is the editor-in-chief of her school literary magazine, Sidetrax, and the founder of the Janus Review, an online publication aimed at promoting diversity in the arts and amplifying the voices of high school and college students. Her work has been recognized by Hollins University and College Xpress.

Mothers with Searchlights or After Another School Shooting By Mitch James

Mothers with Searchlights or After Another School Shooting

Hell is not below
It’s above
and it’s full of mothers
searching for their dead children

God is not up there
He is a man
Men don’t wait
He is not listening to your prayers
It’s all mothers
and they’re wailing

Here’s what’s fucked up

If they could hear you
over their lamentations
they’d probably stop what they were doing
stop searching for their dead
just to help you

That’s what women do
when they become mothers
Even when they’ve lost it all
they find more to give

Hell is
so-tired mothers
searching

You don’t believe me
Look up into a clear night
You’ll see them
in their infinite fatigue
sorrow eternal
mothers
their children nowhere to be found
just mothers
and darkness

How do we not weep at it
all the children gone
all the mothers standing
their searchlights bright
but still

By Mitch James

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America

Biography:

Mitch James lives in Northeast Ohio by way of Pennsylvania by way of Illinois. He has three degrees, one terminal, in various fields of English studies. Mitch has had fiction, poetry, and scholarship on creative writing published in a handful of venues, most of which can be found at mitchjamesauthor.com. Mitch’s poetry and fiction are both traditional and experimental, think Darren Arnofsky weds Cormac McCarthy while stepping out with Raymond Carver and having a tryst with Hemingway, all of it witnessed by William Faulkner through a small parting in a curtain; think of trying to remember a life lived just like that but having to do so through a memory that only knows for certain the bottle is empty but wasn’t last you checked, all while listening to Philip Glass and Max Richter, knowing that if death had a sound, they are it.

clawing at the grounded moon #35 By Darren C. Demaree

clawing at the grounded moon #35

each day is kidnapped by my pursuit to carve my whole given name into the moon rock i’m leaving a trail my children have started to follow me they keep adding hearts they keep adding cat ears i’ve kept my lettering medallion thin as always i am fattened up by my children who see the moon as a new friend who see the moon as a neighbor who have explained to me over and over again that the moon has no business here among us isn’t it pretty isn’t it pretty isn’t it pretty

By Darren C. Demaree

Biography:

I am the author of nine poetry collections, most recently “Bombing the Thinker” (September 2018), which was published by Backlash Press. I am the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. I am currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.

Active Shooter’s Daughter By Brittney Corrigan

Active Shooter’s Daughter

I wasn’t enough. My new eyes, dark
and star shined, weren’t enough. My downy
scalp, still fragrant with the scent of beginnings,
was not enough. My small fingers wrapped
round her thumb were not enough .My coos. My
laughter. My wails when she left me. Not enough.

I wasn’t there. I wasn’t swathed against
her breast the way I should have been, slung
close enough to hear her metronomic heart,
cling to her new-mother belly, twist her
thick hair, bury my face in her neck. She passed
me over. Held something else in her arms.

I wasn’t enough. The reaching of my limbs for
her body in the night was not enough. The babble
rippling from my waking lips was not enough.
My skin sweet as ripe fruit. My ears tuned
to the lilting of her voice. My face a moon
of promise. Not enough. Not enough. Not enough.

I wasn’t old enough to know. My lullabies
sung with metallic snaps sand clicks. The rhythmic
rattle of ammunition shells. The shiny barrels
polished and caressed, so clean and tended.
Handed to my father as she leaned to place me
in my crib, cupped the heels of my feet in her palms.

I wasn’t enough.The auspice of my future.
Not enough. The safety of my world. Not enough.
The empty house, the shattered family. Neither
were enough. The road of shame before me.
The thought of me abandoned.The gaping of my life
without her life. None of it. None of it enough.

I wasn’t responsible. But oh sisters, oh brothers and fathers
and mothers, oh daughters and sons, oh friends and dear ones
crouched and laid flat by your fear, oh survivors,oh wounded,
oh ghosts. I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t stop them. Couldn’t
hold their hearts.So hold me. Hold me up into the mourners
and the cameras and the sun. Enough. Enough. Enough.

For the daughter of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen MalikSan Bernadino, California, December 2015

By Brittney Corrigan

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America

Biography:

Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collection Navigation (The Habit of Rainy Nights Press, 2012) and the chapbook 40 Weeks (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and she is the poetry editor for the online journal Hyperlexia: poetry and prose about the autism spectrum (http://hyperlexiajournal.com/). Brittney lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is both an alumna and employee of Reed College. For more information, visit http://brittneycorrigan.com/.

a legacy of dish washing By alyssa hanna

a legacy of dish washing

my grandma can’t take the train anymore.
she doesn’t say it, but we all know. she walks like winter
pressing down on a tree, the creaking loud enough to make you
think that maybe someone down the street is crying
out for help, but it is too soft
to know for sure; you don’t want to call 911
if all there is is a branch asking for attention. maybe
it’s just the wind rattling the panes, the air
rusting out brand new knees and hips and arms,
drying out freshly pruned eyes. she cannot take the stairs
to my apartment and there is no elevator, so she cannot see
the snake monument out of sea glass i have placed
next to a framed photo of her and grandpa in front
of an artificially imposed sunset
on the green screen deck of a carnival cruise. she gave me that snake
for my birthday, said, it’s beautiful, but i’ll never understand
why you like those slithering things.
if you try to help her up any stairs,
the ones life doesn’t allow her to avoid, she slaps your hands from her
like flies. i taught you how to walk. everything ‘bout walking
you learned from me. your help is asking a baby to breastfeed his mother.

i am harsh with my grandmother.
maybe too harsh. she comes
to the oven while i’m making pork and i command her to sit,
stay on the couch, enjoy her second cosmo.
and after dinner she comes to the sink to wash dishes and i push her

until she folds back into a chair as a losing poker hand. i scold her the way
one scolds a dog. she is far too stubborn to be a dog suitable for a house pet.
i got some of my stubbornness from her.
she says, you made the pork, it’s only fair i clean. but i still push.

i push my grandmother who had my mother after a shotgun wedding in ’59.
i push my grandmother, the one who didn’t care if i had grown
in her daughter’s womb or not.
i push my grandmother, who, upon learning that my father’s family abandoned us,
promised me that she’d be worth two grandmas to me.
i push her, say how many years have you been washing dishes?
sit. stay. let me practice.

By alyssa hanna

This poem was originally published by Cholla Needles.

Biography:

alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in Reed Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Barren Magazine, Rust + Moth, BARNHOUSE, Pidgeonholes, and others. She was also nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2017 James Wright Poetry Competition. alyssa is an aquarium technician in Westchester and lives with her fish and special needs lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter, instagram, ko-fi, and patreon.

 

Two years ago, By Jack Verhagen

Two Years ago,

I sat down to write a poem about a man
whose hands were stained with blood, who took so many lives
in a nightclub in Florida. Two years ago I watched with tearful eyes
as the stories of the victims flooded the Internet; two years ago I watched
as people said “not again, not again. this cannot happen again.”

Two years ago, my friends told me they were going to L.A. Pride and I said
“but what if, but what if. you know that’s a target, you know it is.”
and they said they’d be fine but the police caught a man
whose hands could have been stained with blood, who was trying
to drive to L.A. Pride with a trunk full of guns. I had so many
friends there that day. So many friends I could have lost in the space
of a heartbeat.

Two years later, I sit down to write a poem about a man
whose hands are stained with blood, who took so many lives
in a high school in Florida. Two years later I watch with tearful eyes
as the stories of the victims flood the Internet; two years later, I watch
as people say “not again, not again. never again.”

Two years later, things have not changed. But the people are
changing. The people will not be silenced. The people, no, the students
are standing up to say “never again. never again.
And this time they mean it.

Two years from now, I hope I will not have to sit down to write a poem about a man
whose hands are stained with blood, who took so many lives
somewhere in America. Two years from now, I do not want to watch
as the stories of the victims flood the Internet; two years from now I do not want
people to say “not again, not again. not again.”

Two years from now, I do not want to see any of this.
Because I do not want any of this to happen, ever again.

By Jack Verhagen

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America

Biography:

Jack Verhagen is a 17-year-old poet from the sunny state of California. She enjoys writing and skateboarding, as well as frequenting any coffee shop that can be found in the area. She hopes to be able to compile a chapbook of her poetry in the near future, and looks forward to her future growth as a writer.

clawing at the grounded moon #34 By Darren C. Demaree

clawing at the grounded moon #34

i have forgotten almost completely all of the trysts that involved human bodies and human bodies alone spread jasmine whole jasmine what were we even doing before the moon became all that was in front of us armed with blood disarmed by blood we really did believe the tree only went as high as we could reach we really did believe that all that fleshy fruit was meant to guard more fruit

By Darren C. Demaree

Biography:

I am the author of nine poetry collections, most recently “Bombing the Thinker” (September 2018), which was published by Backlash Press. I am the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. I am currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.