news of her death
rushes through me
and it takes a minute
to process the meaning
because I’ve been in denial
for years that we’re just
pounding nails into our
own coffin and this year’s
a banner year for nails
Can’t Stop the Signal
I feel a goddamn poem coming on—
it festers within the marrow of my bones,
pushes outward to crack through to my flesh,
infiltrates my blood and pulses toward my heart.
I was 15 when the safety of school was shattered,
watched on TV as survivors trickled out;
my generation was promised never again,
and we were naïve enough to believe.
Today I teach the mass shooting generation
for whom school has never been a place of safety,
continually condemned by the same cohorts
who let our country become a war zone—
they know school attendance as Russian roulette,
played by a religion of guns, the NRA the church,
a cherry-picked 2nd Amendment the scripture,
know better than to trust others to end the carnage.
Frantic missives via text, goodbyes on Twitter,
those under attack comforted in 280 characters
by other school kill-zone survivors,
offering what damaged light they can.
Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant teaching professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, New Verse News, and others. Her first chapbook, The Politics of Division, was published in 2017 and awarded honorable mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018.