With folded hands but answerless.
She is the ninth. The ninth to be gutted,
carried off on a steel gurney;
its joints grown weak with weight.
The world is playing the numbers tease:
9/11: "Maybe he’s done."
911: "900 left to kill."
Were hate as simple as lessons of math,
we might have found eroded keys
to heaven’s swinging, slamming gate.
What smile is next to fall?
On Eastern streets of amber shrubs,
a mother shoves a stroller’s wheels
through pastures of an empty park —
her thumbtack in the going cork.
She has become the widened eye
unaccustomed to sleep.
The eagle is wary, on edge.
Glass of fear about to spill.
Her wings prepared to seize and clutch.
How does one divide these surly scales of terror
from lightly falling autumn leaves
on days of death like this.
Maroon of blood is this month’s color;
no altar cloth can lift the stain.
Liberty’s garden is planted again
with touches of Armageddon gloom.
The sniper is quite precise.
Pencils of a hummingbird above a flower
growing black while love remains
a gasp of almost thinning air.
Never choke the light of stars —
a million votives shimmering.
To graft a sense of cherishing
across the smitten bone is all we have
as molecules of anger fly,
as endings sink their fangs in skin,
as we still reach for dusty bibles
tumbling bewildered shelves.