After Bullet


I fear masked men. Cloaked

cheeks, mouth hidden, eyes peering.

Ski mask or wrapped scarf, I tremble, my gut drops.


Brother’s murderers wore night

as a cloak. Collars turned up. Hats cast down into the dark

of eyes.


Recite the night.

I rouse Brother from sleep.

He exits the blue door almost naked,

except for boxers and slippers.


There are so many shadows here.

At first, Rain mutes danger. I wear a sloppy sweatshirt,

brain and instincts dull from sleep and Rain’s steady rhythm.

I enter this memory hoping for a clue, some

new understanding or to relive Last Moment with Brother–

Last Moment, whole.


But then there is Bullet. Then there is fear.

Explain–the ways it electrifies my tongue. I slip in and out.

I lick fear, spilling from my mouth into a howl when a

man on bus slips on ski mask.

He is not right. He stares and slinks. His grace uneases me.

I must grip something.


Learn this guilt. Days I am Lost Cause.

My body a burden I do not want.

Sometimes I want to tell everyone

who will listen that those men killed a part of me too.


They turned me jukebox,

I only know one song;

a haunted tune of the hunted.


My body does what it does. I need this. To understand

how I confuse Past and Present. I go searching the library

for answers. But Bullet only brings questions.


Living with the Unanswerable and Missing;

I learn joy after Bullet.


Cracking open. Buzzing salty with

indulgence. A brightness almost forgotten.

I stir it with the tip of a finger,

it teaches me to order a man to his knees.

Find the command in my voice.

There’s a strength here. I wear it like new skin.

We both like it. In these moments fear disappears.


Don’t tell me why.

Don’t pathologize this unexpected


Casandra Lopez, a Chicana, Cahuilla, Tongva and Luiseno writer, currently living in Seattle. She has a MFA from the University of New Mexico and has been selected for residencies with the Santa Fe Art Institute, School of Advanced Research and Hedgebrook. Her poetry chapbook, Where Bullet Breaks was published by the Sequoyah National Research Center and was recently selected as a literary artist for the King County Social Justice Project. She is a CantoMundo, Jack Straw fellow and a founding editor of As/Us: A Space For Women Of The World.