Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Snipers and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

in Gun Violence/Identity by

there is something
about the death
of the pornographer and the death
piled upon death in Vegas,
about the value of a body and its life,
about the boys we’ve failed and the men
they’ve become. how their only power
is in owning, taking: bodies.
lives. how the answer to loss
is more taking. something

about how brutality
requires practice.
how, in order to become fluent
in the staccato language
to which they aspire,
the shooters study first in blunter
tongues: the dog’s
cracked yelp,
the blue blossom
painted around the eye
of a girlfriend, daughter,
wife, her broken nose,
broken bones, something
about the fact that the woman
who leaves
is the most
to die.
to be killed.

something, too,
about the boys who are told
to quit crying, who learn
that the answer to pain
is to turn it inside out
and aim it
somebody else’s heart.
something about the power
of a hurting made anger,
an anger made righteous,
made armor.

about the bad guys
my sweet son
tells me he’ll kill,
back his finger
and thumb. how he picks
a red poppy to tuck
behind his ear,
takes up a stick
for a sword, swears
he’ll protect me
from monsters.
how to save him.



Stephen Paddock shared a trait with other mass killers: He abused women [Quartz]
One mass shooting every day: Seven facts about gun violence in America [The Telegraph]
Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner [The New York Times]

Caitlin Gildrien is a writer, graphic designer, and erstwhile farmer living at the feet of the Green Mountains of Vermont. Her poetry has recently appeared in Alligator Juniper and Trumped, the first volume of the Poets Speak anthology series, as well as during the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project for August 2017.

Photo by Alan Light.

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