In the new issue of Dialogist

Thanks to the editors for publishing my poem, Out of the Chamber, in the newest issue of Dialogist. In this post, I wanted to write about why this poem came to be.

Bullets in your soup, cracking teeth. Bullets littered
along interstates, swimming pools, shoulders.

When I first drafted this poem, it was 2015. I was overwhelmed with grief after hearing about the Charleston SC Church mass shooting. Our culture is violent, always has been, but the violence felt like it was creeping into the spaces where one can seek solace or be safe. Churches, schools, theaters, pools, concerts. There seemed to be no end in sight. I was trying to come to grips with the fact that mass shootings and shootings by the police are now part of our lives.

…Here is a church choir

with notes punctuated by bullets.

I started thinking about all those bullets. Bullets were everywhere and no matter how much we wanted them to go away, they kept appearing. It was (and is) maddening.

At the gas station, bullets wait
to end where your life should be

In 2002, the D.C. sniper was indiscriminately killing people in my hometown. They shot people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia — a huge area and yet, there was a shooting at the Shell gas station my mother usually went to, right near her house. I think about that victim and about all the times these bullets miss and all the times they don’t.