Opening Our Hands

in Gun Violence/U.S. by

Why does the professor teach / the geography of death?
How many churches are there in heaven?
—Pablo Neruda, ‘The Book of Questions,’ IV, VII

How do we open our hands, unlock
the rigor mortis of fear? How do we soothe
a mother’s dead child, bathe her screams
in honey? The palmistry of love opens out,
a Niagara or Victoria Falls shedding water
without end, Earth’s unstinting gift.

The trigger finger strokes a brush as easily
as an AR-15 safety catch, softly spiders
a piano keyboard, choreographs keys
to tapdance a poem—O! A living thing
arises from the squalor of words
sprawling across bullet-haunted brains.


for the victims of the Marjorie Stoneman School shooting
in Parkland, Florida, February 14, 2018



Sean Arthur Joyce is a journalist, poet and historian with seven books published, ranging from Canadian history to poetry to a new novel, Mountain Blues, due out in May 2018 from NeWest Press, Edmonton, Alberta.

Photo by Ann on Flickr.