What Was Told, That by Rumi

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!


Human Family by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.


Open a Window By Amy Small-McKinney

for air, notice the airlessness
of bodies piled up
like newspapers, the airlessness
of fear, not the kind you feel
on a mountain ledge when
you don’t trust
your body’s sense of balance,
rather the kind you can’t imagine—
someone you never met
will kill you— has planned to kill you
for over a year, stockpiling ammunition
that will enter abdomen chest or head
as velocity from rifle barrel is expressed in numbers
as v is in meters per seconds
as the bullet departs its barrel
and velocity becomes zero,
as in that moment you become zero.
It has nothing to do with you.
It could be any number
of people unless you are standing there
in its general direction.
The shooter understands,
it is physics and math.

Elevenses By Sophie Segura

We reckon, in heartbeats, the time it takes
paper to parachute-float through the drag.
The lull between bullets.

Nimble through pencil-case shrapnel, obstacle run
of flesh and metal. Dumb, sudden experts
at holding our breath.

Later, they’ll discover an underachieving bomb, erect
a metal detector, monument. We’ll try to ignore
invisible outlines on library carpet. And how
our sandwiches taste different.

.22 by Brian Clements

The guy my girlfriend ran off with
in 1983 drove a rusted-out Beetle
and carried a .22 pistol for runs to the bank
to drop off nightly deposits from the General
Cinema, where he was Assistant Manager
and where I worked and saw Rocky Horror
about 20 times more than I wanted to
in egg-and-tp-drenched midnight shows.
He lived in a rat-trap, roach-infested, leaning-over
shack on the edge of The Heights,
a few streets over from the house where,
in 2004, a local TV reporter was murdered
in her bed, her face beaten beyond recognition.

In 1988, on my first night as Assistant Manager
at a restaurant in Dallas, a fight broke out
between a pimp and a private investigator,
who also may have been a pimp. A group
of frat boys decided to jump in and knocked
the whole scrum over onto the floor
just on the other side of the bar from me.
The pimp came up pointing a .22 semiautomatic
directly at the closest object, which happened
to be my forehead. He didn’t shoot—
just waved his gun around until everyone
cowered under their tables—then
calmly walked out the front door and down the street.

My best friend in sixth or seventh grade
moved to Arkansas from New Mexico.
Ron’s skin was lizard-rough.
He raised hamsters and hermit crabs.
I struck him out for the last out of the Little League
Championship. We went out to his father’s farm
and shot cans and bottles with his .22 rifle.
Back in New Mexico, he’d had some health problems
and his mother had shot herself in the head.
A few years ago, a dead body was found
buried on his father’s property. Ron’s son
ended up shooting himself in the head as well.
He was 22.
On December 14, 2012, an armed gunman
entered the Sandy Hook School with two pistols,
a Bushmaster .223, hundreds of rounds of ammunition,
and a shotgun in the car. Rather than turn right,
toward my wife’s classroom where she pulled
two kids into her room from the hallway,
he turned to the left, murdered twenty children
and six adults, including the principal
and the school psychologist, both of whom
went into the hallway to stop the gunman,
and shot two other teachers, who survived.
After that, a lot of other things happened,
but it doesn’t really matter what.