Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and Prayers 

Carpet the bottom of my tongue, mismatched 

against the bruised upholstery of a nation 

stitched to the sheepskin of a gun barrel. 

The woolen mouth coughs into the microphone—

For the victims, for the families, for the responders, for…

for the screams swallowed whole 

by the whirling cylinder of a semi-automatic, 

for the eyes pried open by the click of a trigger

held captive, not wanting to see. 

See, the guns don’t kill people, people kill 

people. People kill people— 

it scratches down the back of my throat,

the aftertaste of cotton country just enough 

to turn the other way before I digest the facts. 

The facts: the only thing stopping a bad guy with a gun

is the frayed selvage of American fantasy.

No, my only gun is the mouth of this country 

choking as it speaks, spitting out sympathy. 

My sympathy, dedicated to those

who watch that cylinder and realize

only blood is measured by the weight of a circle.

Kanchan Naik

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