"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

American Massacre, Outcry, and Grim Reaper in Therapy

American Massacre, Outcry, and Grim Reaper in Therapy

American Massacre

We the people enjoy the inalienable right
to be slain in cold blood like fodder
in our various streets, schools, campuses,
cinemas, and concert venues,
even at any hour of day or night,
with readily obtained weapons of war
in the hands of arms-bearing civilians
though they be livid, bitter, depressed, insane,
or (to cover their bases) all of the above,
because it was for this very reason
that our nation's founding fathers
toiled by the dawn's early light
to plant the bullet-spangled banner
and bring forth on this continent a new nation,
establishing these colonies and territories
as the land of the free gunned down
and the home of the brave grieving,
that military grade semi-automatic and automatic
assault rifles and ammo magazines
shall not have been purchased in vain,
so that shooting sprees and mass slaughter
shall not perish from the earth.
May God the NRA continue to bless hold hostage
these United States of America.


Legal remedies await their own enactment,
an inevitability inexcusably overdue
and far too tardy for the departed,
their lives taken abruptly and arbitrarily
by actants callous, unhinged, frenzied,
eager to go out with a bang-bang-bang,
not a whimper, indifferent to the carnage
left in their wake in the streets and squares,
in the hearts of loved ones lorn
and bereft of cherished treasures.

At such hours customary bromides—
"our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families",
"everything happens for a reason", "life goes on"—
are exposed as less than worthless, availing none,
not even their well-meaning, mechanical espousers.

The insane, often responsible, ever remain
unaccountable; patently unpalatable is
the fact that those invested with authority
pretend helplessness as horror recurs
and the same, tiresome questions arise,
the same solutions suggest themselves
with unrealistic hopes of being implemented.

Only an outcry piercing the heavens, rattling the skulls
of sluggish legislators dozing in power's corridors
will suffice to disrupt the pattern;
shriek with me, then, on behalf of the needlessly deceased,
for the sake of injured survivors;
wail by day and howl by night for the waste of life,
the animating impulse, the original surprise present;
shriek in righteous indignation, at the top of your lungs...
...or brace yourselves for the foreseeable.

Grim Reaper in Therapy

It isn't even the long hours, to be honest,
or relentlessly being on stand-by.
Besides, it's not like I'm unionized or anything.
I confess, as far as vocations go,
it's sometimes incredibly satisfying;
some lowlifes I can hardly wait
to grasp in my clutches!
But, if I'm being perfectly honest with you,
there is a certain tedium, an eroding ennui
that sporadically gnaws away at me,
diminishing my capacity to proceed,
you know, business as usual.
And, occasionally, a few qualms,
which I find dreadfully disorienting
and which tend to impair my purpose.

Of course I never volunteered to be
the Angel of Death, per se; if I had had
my druthers, I would have surely preferred
the exalted role of archangel, actually,
which, admittedly, affords a trade-off:
less publicity, more esteem. So be it.
That's a compromise I could live with.

Naturally, I never bring my misgivings
upstairs, so to speak, because I'm not normally
so solipsistic, and I don't want to be a bother,
and it's not as if He doesn't already know,
you know what I mean? I mean, really.
He'd probably just say I'm overthinking things,
and in that divine tone, full of casual finality.

Whatever. It's fine. I'm coping.
I suspect the others second-guess themselves
at least from time to time, no big deal.
Who knows? Maybe they even get
a little depressed sometimes, too. Whatever...
I recognize that antsy look of yours, doc.
My time is up, I know, I know.
As is yours, by the way. 

Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 225+ publications in 28 countries. Website: www.brandonmarlon.com

Cover photo by D x L on Unsplash

Animals, A Morning in Spring, and This Was Scrawled on a Shop 'n' Save Receipt

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