Photo published by NBC News, November 11, 2018
“Confessed Parkland High School shooter
Nikolas Cruz registered to vote from jail”
+what do you see?
this poor child—
in orange, like grave clothes, his burial shroud
paraded by the wrists shackled to his waist
chains that hang like links
on a bead-less rosary
skin so white, he’s like the dead—
a walking corpse? a monster at twenty?
his prison cell a living tomb
+how did he let it get this bad?
never learned to say no to insidious
voices, I guess
we humans are born nearly
in our mother’s womb—
fearfully and wonderfully made
(if the psalmist is to be believed)
and yet susceptible to the haunted night,
think: oily rags
how they spontaneously combust
breathing fire through the house
not even the family dog survives
+what’s he have to do with dogs?
I mean to say
confessed killer of seventeen young lives—
(people think you’re a monster now, his brother said)
but that’s not how he was made
+why the obsession with creation?
he’s still God’s child
molded in ethereal hands
overcome by evil, yes
like a dog with rabies
(I don’t like the demon, he said)
convulsing and thrashing
the virus warping its vision, its brain
precious before God
(I can’t even believe I’m saying this)
God dreamt him into being
and loved him
+loved? does God still love him?
I’m standing outside the tomb
waiting for someone to roll away the huge stone
inside the corpse putrified
a stench you can easily taste
I want to say
let the dead stay dead—
dammit let him stay dead
(Nikolas himself said, Just f’king kill me…)
but you, you want me
to gaze into all that darkness
reach into it
find a way, any possible way,
to love him
and scream out
Nikolas, I know you’re in there—
Br. Loren Moreno is a Franciscan novice friar at Old Mission Santa Barbara. He’s a graduate of The New School’s Creative Writing MFA program, a former reporter with The Honolulu Advertiser and HONOLULU Magazine, and the author of the poetry chapbook WE ARE IN DANGER OF DROWNING (Finishing Line Press, 2017).
Editorial art by Elle Aviv Newton.