why / why not?


It scans like a poem of horror:
 Sandy Hook, The Twin Towers, Virginia Tech,
Boylston Street, Watertown

the number of lives lost mattering less
than the geography of home —
‘the Marathon Bombers’
pinned to the calendar irretrievably

it’s us now

‘He was not very good’
said Son #1 of his wrestling.
‘She had been by that boat many times,’
said Son #2.

it is us, now

Driving past Aurora days earlier,
we wondered where Columbine was.
Tourism of extreme violence?

Out West, “Guns For Sale”
situated right next to “Baskin-Robbins”
in an ordinary strip mall.
How glib to think: violence happens elsewhere.

(Never mind Sandy Hook)

In Poco and Mama’s, there it is
right above the specials:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with you Boston.”
We want to shout
in a crowded plaza the next morning:
“We are from Boston!”

Endless looping of
CNN footage at the airport
itching at the eyes, scoring the mind.
Delays, images on the screen,
make getting home seem impossible.
No wonder the future gets tagged


again, by the fragile.

We land and drive west out of Boston,
the familiar places are not.
A ghost town welcome.

The rotary that spirals off
to Watertown, usually chaotic
with drivers jockeying for position,
is deserted. Completely.

The road home spooky.

After the capture (they found him! he’s alive!),
and sleeping for twelve hours
there is some sense of relief, but
not really.

Why that eight year old? Why at the finish line?
Why that foreign exchange student or that rookie cop?

And then there is the matter of the pocked future.

It can help to employ
a practice. Try it: Ask,
“Why not?” after you ask: “Why?”

The shame, the loss (why?)
of a young man gone
so terribly wrong (why not?)

“Kinda quiet, athletic, relaxed and likeable” could describe
any number of our sons. Why him
and not them? Why not?

A friend works at MIT,
another lives in Watertown.
We knew exactly where the tape
described the neighborhood, just off
of Mt. Auburn.

Why here – so close and so personal?
Why not?

Why use the event to confirm visions of a bleak future?
Why not?
Why such horrible and random violence?
Why continue with anything, with say, hope or cheer?
Why not? Why not?

But now another topic forms.
Not connected, but really, deep down connected,
like so much else.