In Charleston, the Day After the Shooting (2015)

I.

a statue of a dead confederate soldier
looms over the city

community signatures
on the broken cast of a thin tree

the resounding message in red
marker: LOVE WINS

(if love is a gun smoking heavenward
and if love bodies slumped in pews)

II.

a fellow wanderer asks me to photograph him
in front of the scene

he smiles

then takes his iPhone
back
among the strangers

III.

I was a Catholic boy

lost
my way as a man

yet in presence of steeple
and jagged and mighty
tragedy

arrows of prayer quiver inside me
then anger
at tourists and cameras

I know I’m part of
this exhibitionism problem

we’re a crowd of resounding bells
waiting for the next funeral to begin

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)