Ballistics
That the greasy pop-pop
of a semiautomatic wrecks 
 
the air before I can get off
the couch, before my wife yanks
 
our baby daughter
from the new fallen flesh
 
of pomegranate and runs
inside before their car horrors
 
past our fence is true.
That this winter this town
 
has more bullets than rain 
gutters in truth but is not true. But the bullets
 
are true. Candles, rosaries, the roses
that shrine the street corner
 
are true beyond the next day stare
of faces watching me walk
 
behind a stroller. What’s true
is the wound
 
channel, that human tissue jumps 
from a bullet like water
 
from a diver. One
boy bled out where he fell.
 
The other on a table
at a university hospital. Drawn
 
blinds are true, checked locks. Smiles
have too much teeth to be true.
 
What’s vital is the crush
mechanism, the permanent hole
 
a bullet makes in that moment
I’m watching
 
my wife and child each time
they fail to reach 
 
the door. Noises at night grow
skin, grow fur, spring fangs 
 
that scratch and score casement 
glass and hinge
 
between what’s true. And what isn’t? 
That I wrote down the names
 
of the dead, though it should be.
What’s real are the costs
 
of moving, of staying, the recoil
from a too early doorbell,
 
the ten to fifteen seconds left 
to a body when the heart’s
 
instantly destroyed. What’s left
is our fence five feet from 
 
the street, the house thirty feet 
from the fence, the front wall
 
four inches of California
bungalow and then her crib.
Copyright © 2004–2014 Memorious