But on TV, in the ticker tape updates scrolling
across the bottom of the screen, they said
that a paper airplane crashed into a skyscraper
and somehow killed thousands of people,
or an airplane hit the wall of the classroom
and killed a schoolboy, or killed his possibilities,
or they said something about killing, or they said
something about a school, or they said something
about a boy, and a killing, and a school, and a boy,
a killing, a school, a boy — one who liked a girl
so much, who wanted a girl so much it hurt,
or so much he hurt, or they said, or said something
about her body being hurt, or they said something
about a body, as if it was some inanimate object.
I think they said in the interview that the marathon
was “the bomb,” or they said something about a bomb,
or they said something about a car, about rifle fire
from the trunk, or something about a rifle, or a raffle,
or they said something happened at random, or
they said something happened, or they said nothing
unusual happened, or they said nothing unusual,
or they said nothing, or nothing that sounded,
to me, like prayer. I know they said the words
this, will, when and stop but kept talking. They’re
saying something, still talking, looking right into
the camera; they’re still shooting, or are always
shooting, they said, or they say, or they’re saying
right now: mortars or rockets or something I can’t
quite make out over all the shooting outside.
All the screaming outside. The ambient noise
that carries my ass to sleep, fades me to black.
Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies, selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. A recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and The Conversation Literary Festival, his poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, The Journal, New England Review, POETRY, River Styx, TriQuarterly and elsewhere.