On the church shootings in Texas, in a world where “normal” has been left behind.

“It all seems so natural now we’ve gone straight through eloquence …”


There my hand was /

veined purple / the skin

like sand under clear water / spotted some /

grey haired and twice ringed

like my father’s / once with the same ring /

curved and waiting there before me

somehow unpaired / single handed /

still as a rabbit / awake on the keyboard

at A S D F / thumb aloft / waiting

for the space for the will and the way /

for the novel to follow the novel about the hand

I’d placed in the lap of another old man

I’d just made up /more likely not for a novel as I’d left /

after all / fiction a while back / a while before /

in search of something perhaps less true

but more current / or engaged / or

maybe only for the right voice / stilled for a while

in knowing that it cannot be mine / not my speech /

not right now / but (if I can) that of the wide nation

I am still part of / surely / Our Country /

as 43 named it to set a priori whether one (you) is

(dispositive) not one of us / it’s us & everybody else

after alles / simple as that / could be

that means you / or me / could be

that means we who cannot pledge / salute /

or sing along without asking what the nation will do next

in our name / us

It all seems so natural now we’ve gone straight through eloquence /

now that normal’s left behind / now that the gap … is stunning

as it was supposed to be / stunning / as a (simple) practicality /

it’s us & them recall / our country

held now by transactional foxes

that never trouble long-term effects /

are comfortable with the quid against the quo

It is the quo after all that matters / and thus

(thus) the whistle-blower / or the person who gave to the blower

(gave to the blower) / is almost a spy / almost a spy /

him said and spies and treason / we used to handle …

a little differently than we do now / him said

out loud out loud / as inciteful as always /

as are the high priests / a little different from before /

the preachers a little different from before / the church . . .

We were at year’s end / decade’s end / (or not) /

in the holiday recess / a holiday within a cliffhanger /

himpeached but not yet tried /

we were on trial instead right then /

betested on what has been unleashed . . .

am grateful to the church members /

are grateful to the church members /

grateful to the church members who acted quickly

to take down the shooter /

him would / I was sure / bless them / too /

the shooters-back / given the chance

And I wondered/ flexing my twice-ringed hand /

about the aftermath / about the sabbath after the New Year /

after the shooting voices voiced / still hanging off the cliff /

in the wide nation / speechless / listening


Frederick Ramey is the author of the novel Comes a Time, published by Fomite Press in 2020. He is also a longtime editor of literary fiction and memoir, the co-publisher of Unbridled Books, and the founding director of Leaping Man, a not-for-profit producer of performances, arguments, and artifacts in Colorado. You can find him at leapingman.org.




Featured image by peakpx.