Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016



in Gun Violence/U.S. by

Each bullet is like a rock
thrown in a lake. The ripples—
bloodstained pictures

lodged in survivors’ minds,
in their bodies, like volcanoes
that will erupt again & again

through the coming years.
The aching absence of a life
more permanent than any scar

stabbing through the bodies
of those who loved the dead.
The ripples widen, widen,

they cover the world—


I watched a video on Facebook
of large dog clinging to ice
in a half-melted river.

A fireman inches out to him,
grabs him, is dragged back
by his comrades. They hurry

the dog into an ambulance.
The EMTs dry and rub him.
Come back, boy; Hang in there, boy.

One EMT stethoscopes
for a heartbeat under the damp fur.
We’ve got a heartbeat, he yells,

and the EMTs cheer.
This is the default setting
for a human being.


Once a boy I loved
threw a rock into my pond.
At first I only felt it sink,

felt its weight at the bottom
of me. Later I would know
the ripples, as one by one

they spread to water my years.
It was like waking from a dream
to discover you’re still dreaming

and then waking again.
And again. Yet I’m a lucky one;
I’m still alive.


At least 29 dead in two days.
Dozens wounded. 27 injured.
Can you feel the ripples?

Can you feel them crashing
like strong and salty waves
over the back of your head?

Can you taste the salt of tears
in your mouth, the years and years
of them yet to come?

Can you feel the undertow?
Are you drowning? Are we all



Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in Euphony, Juked, Little Patuxent Review, and Van Gogh’s Ear, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize.

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