You hasten to campus just after first.

Tardies sidle indoors like roaches under stoves.

Each room is the first cupboard you search

that never has what you’re looking for

an assortment of small details that

never get sorted, the wrong screwdriver

and creased baggie of nails, some hard candy

and sundry batteries that might still be good

but probably you’ll never find out.

There is an answer to every question

and if you get it wrong, if you haven’t

got it right, it will get you. And you. And you.


When here you are sitting in the throes of a math

room that’s supposed to be a science room

and there aren’t enough desks when everyone is present

imprisoned by the absolutely absurd facticity

of a world you had no hand in making,

yet it was made precisely for you and is

too far along for you or anyone else

to remember if the premise was true or not—

then every act becomes an understanding of the world

including yours. And yours. And yours.


When fumbled between kindly, fearful teachers

whose passion is fecund as spring

and likewise must wilt perennially—

everyone told them to do what they loved

and also not to fuck with their kid’s grade—

then the bleary-eyed and disillusioned must

bring up the next generation, offered up

as a sacrifice for you. And you. And you.


When children unhinged by their appetites

whet their teeth upon that restless captivity

made bloodthirsty with our fables—kids have

always been the best audience for storytelling

we feed it to them the same as mother’s milk—

then everyone must drink of it the same

and must be made to suffer great things.

So too must you. And you. And you.


When hope is the hope of joining the workforce

and having a child you can hit someday too

when you don’t know what the answer is,

there becomes something Orwellian about

motivational posters, solemn and catechized

headlines from the ministry in loud print—

You are your only limit, and hard work plus

a good attitude equals success—the irony

of their authority still unresolved as your

last thought folds in on you. And you. And you.

R. Charboneau

4 thoughts on “For the Next School Shooting in the United States

  1. This was so raw and loaded. I was just clicking away in my weekend, light reading frenzy, and instead, got hit by a train. I’m all wobbly now. It’s amazing how much range you can cover. This poem has a great rhythm and build-up, not to mention the heavy, emotional baggage. And I’m always in for some long dashes. Chapeau!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m still recovering, but you have my permission to gloat.

        Now, how can I possibly convince you that it’s totally worth it for you to promote yourself? Even, dare I say, morally imperative? You must save readers like me from all the shitty poetry that steals the spotlight. The world needs a hero. Are you up for the challenge? [motivational music blasting through the speakers]

        Liked by 1 person

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