Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


To the Yellow Cardinal of Alabaster, Alabama [AUDIO]

in Gun Violence by


1. bird of paradise in an alabama backyard
with your feathers of honey, you shine
quietly amidst the crimson. beware:
swarms of bullets buffet the air beneath
your cherished wings. you cannot stop flying,
homa, because there are no more safe
places to land. the canaries all are dead
now. we ignored them as they fell out of
the sky like leaden yellow raindrops,
like the locusts of exodus, like brilliant, little,
once-breathing meteorites.

2. bird of compassion, we need you
in this aphotic darkness—in this absence
of right. instead of throwing
prized pennies into wishing wells, our
children are being buried beneath numb
earth and palls of periwinkle. the day
seventeen more lives were stolen in
florida, you still lived in anonymity; flew
unweighted and free. then we were all
again eclipsed in bloody, breath-stealing

3. bird of spirit and blessings, please
share with us your secrets of survival.
our wings have rotted and we can’t
seek your sky as sanctuary—we must
live in this bittersweet world with
our feet firmly planted between guns
and gravestones. give us hope in your
gold-dusted beauty, and the miraculous
courage to sing songs of our own. now is
the time of the lionhearted—now we rise
from the fire to fight.


Catherine Strayhall is a nerdfighter from Kansas City and a Kansas State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Creative Writing. She is a two-time winner of the annual Sullivan Poetry Award at K-State, and her work has appeared in The Kansas City Star, elementia, and on the website of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. In 2017 she created a project called “Mobile Poetry” on Facebook which features a Google Map of location-based poetry around Manhattan, Kansas.

Photo by Javarts via Unsplash.

Latest from Gun Violence


Oh Beautiful

By Dan Overgaard. The flag is bleeding.


By Erin Mizrahi. Atatiana Jefferson's murder shows that when it comes to

Survivor Guilt

By Amy Pence. He's got an A rating from the NRA. But
Go to Top