[When a child hears gunshots]


When a child hears gunshots,
she will say Mom is beating
the pots and pans
. She will say
It sounds like home. Let’s keep it
this way; our children
misinterpreting the sound of dying
as a crude percussion.
When they kneel at their beds
and ask god where he was
when their best friend stopped
being alive he will say
I was at the drive-thru,
I was so hungry I thought the gunshots
were my stomach begging for food
He will say I know nothing
until strangers tell me about it first,
I could have bullet wounds in my hands
and I’d know nothing about what hurts
and doesn’t hurt.
What a god; making
the world out of variations of madness,
refusing to hold its face in his hands
and saying You, you are mine.
It is not ours: the young blood,
the unfinished drawings,
the last blurry thoughts before a world
goes black. When god is busy wiping grease
from his mouth, we can stand in a line
with the dead in our backpacks,
next to our pencils and our snacks;
he won’t notice when
we give the whole damned world back.

Meghan Privitello is the author of A New Language for Falling Out of Love (YesYes Books, 2015) and the forthcoming chapbook Notes on the End of the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). Poems have appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, A Public Space, Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a NJ State Council of the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.