All I can think to do is repost a poem I wrote after another mass shooting, that one less deadly by a factor of 10 times.
Saguaros stand on Sonoran hills
like a million men and women.
Anyone will tell you that
as we all recognize the familiar form.
Upright beings with arms
waving friendly how-do’s
arms hanging down
reaching for guns
arms up mean don’t shoot.
Saguaros, too, fall down dead.
Saguaro sounds like sorrow.
after the long day
came an eruption of the
the kitchen’s serenity
betrayed by her friend’s plumber
I type my secret code
like the nine-thousandth name
of an inconsequential god
to unlock the place
where I can tap out these words
straight from my heart
to your brain, or the other way
around. No more endless variations
on the names and dates of
my three grown progeny, now
it’s a mnemonic based on the name
of my first book, fruit of
a different kind of labor,
how you may come to know me,
no fig from a thistle.
Driving south on Highway 89
along the west shore of Lake Cayuga
from Seneca Falls to Ithaca,
listening to a thin crackle of radio
before it’s lost beyond the hill:
Ken Burns is telling Terry Gross
the story of the Vietnam War
in three photographs —
A South Vietnamese general executing
a suspected North Vietnamese spy
just like walking down the street,
the moment the bullet strikes the brain
(why were we there, taking sides?)
A naked girl on fire, fleeing
her napalmed village
(the futile horrors we inflicted)
A young woman crouched over her dying friend,
shot by the National Guard at Kent State
(the war against our brothers and sisters at home)
and I say we and our because to seeing photos
on the front page of every hometown newspaper
made us all complicit in the violence.
It feels good to be writing,
a tentative beginning again,
like stepping barefoot into a pebbly-
shored lake, shallow algae-bloom waters
that will clarify as they deepen
until I progress to the level —
mid-thigh — where I can fall
forward through the gentle parting
of a sky-reflecting surface.
Atilt, clawed by water
Through limestone gorges
That rake the hillsides,
Intellect above, commerce below,
Isn’t that the way of the body?
The future is a projected cone of light
We hurtle toward but never overtake,
Demarcated by rhythmic slashes
Thin and white, evenly spaced
Like so many routinary, endless days.
I focus on light and night, known and unknown,
On trajectory and stopping distance,
Until the startling flash of your green eyes
Grabs my attention for a treacherous instant
And registers on the insidious device
That tracks the pulse of my heart’s desire.