Author’s note-

School shootings—terrifying to students, educators, parents, and communities—always reignite polarizing debates about gun rights and school safety. After everything has silenced- the newspaper headlines, the echo of the gunshots, the vigil, the wokeness, the interviews, the fake niceties, what stays is the undigestible and agonizing narrative of a family who lost their child to the anarchy of this world and the rage people harbor.


During the yearlong lockdown, school shootings dropped to historic levels. In fact, March of 2020 was the first March in 18 years with zero school shootings. Of the 10 total reported school shootings in 2020, five of them occurred in January, before the first mass quarantine.- New York Times


Presenting – Aggrieved…the unshed tears

She is on her phone, chatting animatedly,

giggling like her child chasing gazillion bubbles in the air

and often exclaims- Really! Wow! I love that! I love you too

when someone passes her.


She spreads a gossamer-thin smile

a ritual between familiar strangers on a dogwood trail

and drops the keywords while picking up speed

before her voice plummets to – Little one, are you there? Can you hear me?


The morning chill forces her to unzip her sheepskin jacket

the blast of the crisp air blitzes through her flame

Somehow it smells of a cadaver rotting beneath the black Oak

on the boughs of which he would swing

soaked in hope, a mélange of golden, honey, amber

On some other day, the crape myrtle would sway submissively to his desire

a melee of purple, mauve, violet

He would spot an enormous orange tree overhanging the sidewalk

Valencia, Navels, or Clementine,

Decoding with an eye of a pomologist

in the citric air, the lemon tree would peer from behind

its limbs weary with clusters of small, round, and oval

They would flit in and out, in cheery disposition, as if playing hide and seek

the robin, the sparrow, the house finch, and the little rapscallion

Now, back in her house on a red cedar swing with a small pergola

his Pokémon’s, in rigor mortis, lie frozen

and her head spins faster than water swirling down the drain.


She is closer to his school, a compilation of bones and flesh

skulls big and small, as she chews her insides and tastes blood,

Just then, someone passes her, and she takes control

Raising her voice, she exclaims O Really! O Wow! O, I love that! I love you too, Bud

She forces her gossamer smile and leans close to the bark of a northern oak

where she waited while he hunted for the lost water bottle

The crimson leaves riding on the autumn air

like splinters they fall on her skin, burning, bruising, battering

Until the school bell rings and she pivots to return

To soak his clothes in the dirt,

and scatter the Legos under the couch

To spill milk over the ivory vinyl table cover

and topple the last piece of porcelain vase with his football.


As the bedlam of the morning rush recedes

17520 hours of wait starts to dim

since she last held his mangled body

Reduced to a school shooting story that would begin when hers ended forever.


Clutching her phone, she presses it hard against her ears

Groping for a connection, a dew, a drop, or dust,

as words scatter like black mustard from a broken spice jar

-R-e-a-l-l-y! W-o-w! I-L-o-v-e-t-h-a-t! I – m-if-s-s y-o-u-t-o-o

Walking past, a welter of emotions torpedo through her cage

In a thicket of loneliness, over a stone, she stumbles, gasps and groans

at the phone and her life- dismantled, demolished, dead.