Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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You can fawn over cancer in a smoker
if you’ve never taken a drag. You can feel
sorrier when the woman was mugged
late at night. And when a child drowns,
you know you would’ve latched that fence,
listened for footsteps by the door.
It’s said that tragedy draws us closer,
yet we look for a rock to wedge between us
and horror. Yesterday, on the bus route
I take to work, a man stabbed a woman
until she died. It was early afternoon.
I heard it first on the news, and later,
at our stop, how quickly talk leapt
from shock to sympathy to did she
know him? Randomness is the mad king
of fear. No one can prepare for a man
who pulls a knife before she even
looks up. The reporter had said,
once it was over, three men held him
until the cops came. Tonight, we waited
in wool and fleece, in down and leather,
in a tight circle of streetlight. Did any of us
wake today and think we’d be dead
by day’s end? Maybe she did. After all,
it was her husband, which made us feel
better. It’s always safer when someone
is killed by someone they loved.  

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