Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


I Leave Monet’s Water Lilies at Every Shooting

in Gun Violence by

Everywhere I turn, the water goes
on. It goes on for years, and the
petals open and close and open,
and every day the sun on the
soft water looks different to my
dying eyes. If I paint the right
ray of sun I just know I will
open a doorway to a world
beyond this aching night.

When I paint, I feel the wind
sweep over my lips. The colors
are overbright but they are
truer than in any of my dreams.
Short brushstrokes. Slack
outlines. Just raindrops of
sunlight and the unstoppable
motion of this broken, joyful,
disappearing life.

From beneath the water,
lily pads are the clouds
in my sky. They are the
unbreakable surface, but
still I am never drowning—
only learning to live under-
water, painting fish scales
on my skin. I will not give
up wonder for anything.

So I place water lilies into
machine gun barrels. I
drip paint through the cities
and past the gates of
our cemeteries. I feel the
seasons changing with the
shifting in the air. And when
the shadows grow darker,
I paint my lantern bright.


Catherine Strayhall is a nerdfighter from Kansas City. A two-time winner of the Sullivan Poetry Award at Kansas State University, her work has appeared in The Kansas City Star and elementia. Her project “Mobile Poetry” (2017) features location-based poetry around Manhattan, Kansas.

Photo by Lucas Benjamin.


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