Ode to Three Boys: A Poem on the Chardon Shooting This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 12, 2012
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I wonder what it sounded like
when you fell.
Eliot said we'd end in a whimper,
so I want to know if you howled.
Did air fall out your mouth
when your head fell back
and your knees fell weak?
Did your body sound like a train?
a ghost?
a gun when you hit the floor?
Was it you that went “Pow!”
not a second trigger.
and was the ground wet when you got there?
or did it wait for you first?
rejecting little fists of blood
until their maker came to meet it,
shaking his bloody brain toward its
open palm.
Open palms can't make fists.
I wish man were more open palm,
less bruised knuckle,
more soft skin,
less dry desert.

And why were your knuckles bruised
in the first place?
Why did no one care to ask you
how are you?
where have you been?
what is the view outside your
bedroom window?
Because you closed your doors with two
by fours and GI Joes,
You forgot how a choir sounded in an open gym when it rained
and how the sun woke through your
mini-blinds on Tuesday mornings at
four past eight.
You forgot how it echoed in empty coffins when the soul shot out
and how no matter how hard you sealed a door frame, loneliness could still walk in.
You'll always be a boy with a teddy in
his lap,
left arm over a plush left shoulder,
pewter smile on a sideways face begging
“Be Mine,”
when no one was close enough to listen;
everyone close enough to hear.
And what did you mean when you said
“at his feet”?
Did you really want the world to bow like
a child in prayer?
Did you think yourself a god?
Did you ever call on one?
Did you get what you wanted
when three boys' knees broke?
and was it worth it?

How often did you cry?
Were there days you locked yourself up
in a white-walled room
and sang melodies of tears?
Did you cry one time
for every person who cried for you?
like your mother,
a dark goose on an empty nest,
not knowing when to bark or how to fly
I heard you lifted weights at home,
and I'd bet they went clink when you set them down.
It's funny how we miss the little things
like metal on metal
or heavy breathing,
silent counting
1, 2, 3, 4, up to 10.
What sound does the house make now
to fill your silence?

Had you ever heard the song Vanessa
by Grimes?
because it's called the soundtrack of
your days.
Have you been waiting?
like your father waits for you,
never coming home again.
I imagine he wants to pick you up
like when you were a child
and carry you through that wooden doorpost
leading into the kitchen
just one more time,
for old time's sake,
only time's frozen in that second
just after a bullet landed on your flesh,
opened a river in your canyon
and began a tide.
Are you pulled toward the moon?
You hang like a Christmas ornament
between the two worlds,
passing and coming to life
when the lights are on,
and your father dreams you danced well,
only he'll never know

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

AinsleyTurnedAlex said...
today at 8:44 am
Wow...I mean, wow. This is fantastic.
Ellabell said...
Sept. 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm
Keep dreaming... Tearfully beautiful!
AnnaRead This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm
Thank you. This made me cry, it was so... wow. Keep writing and dreaming, please.
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