Somethings we should forget
never go away, live with us,
stay on as dreams, as nightmares,
sleeping and/or awake, the line is
so slight at times like these.
We send people off to wars,
wars far enough away we
rarely think of them, but
when they return too often
they bring war back with them,
like the guy next town over
who called 911 three times
saying he was surrounded, under fire,
the people in the next house
were, he saw them, building a bomb.
After he opened fire they came,
rambling on the phone is never
enough, but shots fired, neighbors
huddling in their homes, like
in a war zone, gets them out.
This time he survived, surrendered
peacefully, neighbors frightened,
a bullet hole here and there, their-
our familiar calm restored; during
his court appearance he seemed
the most frightened of us all.
A Student’s Story
A man dressed all in black came at them, pointing his gun, the gun
he had just used on the shopkeeper; she and her brother crying,
hid behind their mother’s skirts, their mother begged for their lives,
witnesses often died like that, but the man’s mask saved them,
his identity safe in an unsafe world, her family safe for once in the
midst of war, bombs falling all around, their familiar world turned
to rubble, families divided, friends missing, friends dead and dying.
She tells about going to the candy store with her brother with money
her grandmother gave them for a treat; the explosion missed them,
but they saw pieces of their friend’s mother in the street – her head
here, her legs, one over there, the other by her head; what was left of
a woman, she said, who was always so kind, she still wonders what
her friend did or thought when she saw what was left of her mother.
Now she’s here and when she talks of war and peace we must listen.
The phone is ringing – once, twice – we move slowly;
we still have a landline, in the kitchen waiting for us
still ringing; we must be thinking of all times it rang in
hard things, sad things, all the versions of evil that have
visited us, doctors reporting test results, or that news guy
telling me my employer was gone, asking me how it felt,
and/or the various deaths that have punctuated our lives;
it keeps on ringing, tirelessly, it keeps its watch, its vigil,
calls us, dares us to open its moment, calls us to come
to it, creatures of habit that we are, we’ll get there and
once again, we’ll say “hello,” imagining the very worst
but, as always, hoping for the best.
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Social Justice Poetry, Tuck Magazine, Stanzaic Stylings, Synchronized Chaos, and Autumn Sky Poetry.