“Heartbreak Ghazal” by Alexis Sears

Alexis Sears


America, I don’t know where to start now.
Blood-soaked backpacks: the most callous part now.
In Texas, fourth-grade Miah plays dead, covers herself
with her classmate’s blood. Why must our children be so quick, so “smart” now?
“Authorities say [         ] was able to obtain the gun legally.” Circular graphics of
statistics. This we know: the men in charge refuse to see this chart now.
“Our friendship was special,” wrote Alithia, killed at age 10. Her best friend Nico
had been struck by a car. She had drawn him sketching in heaven, making art now.
“Funeral homes are overwhelmed with little bodies,” the newscaster
says. Parents send in DNA swabs, young faces too deformed to tell apart now.
My friend sighs, “Our country has collective PTSD.” He’s a poet. But nothing
feels more meaningless than culture. Who cares about Tranströmer or Descartes now?
Two years ago, George cried out for his mama. Two weeks ago, black families shot down
at a supermarket. One victim was 77. I picture her slumped over a shopping cart now.
A moment of silence? They can hear the screams on other planets.
What’s next? Another church? My school? The BART now?
No one’s going to change for you, Alexis. On the flight home, a black girl no older
than four sings I believe I can fly. I wonder if—no, when—we’ll break her heart now.

from Poets Respond
June 5, 2022


Alexis Sears: “Honestly, I’m not sure what I can say here about the Uvalde shooting that has not already been shouted, or whispered, or typed. But as someone who has always wanted kids, I can’t help but feel like our country is failing them.” (web)

Rattle Logo