The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


George Perreault

Could You Lead With


some folks who got shot today,

            make it a whole bunch, a good score,

and sure some young ones are best,

            give us headlines and ticker scroll,

the body count rising like a pledge drive,

            maybe flashing lights and mouths, all that

yappery and professional rendering

            with a slice of breaking news

and some serious background on ballistics

            cuz without the sparkles sooner or later

we’d have to face up to the dead,

            the floors blood-soaked towels exhausted docs

hollow-eyed from weeping girl after girl how

            they couldn’t stop the bleeding and they’re

so tired can’t even say exsanguination,

            have to leave that for some spokesperson

doing another who where why so

            don’t stick us with dead kids and mine, mine

screaming and screaming,

            that’s just another day in America,

teddy bears and candles, remnants for the families,

            someone’s purse, someone’s shoes,

asking what piece of your child

            got lost in the rat-a-tat,

so give us the action, not the aftermath, we need addition

            maybe multiplication, just none of those subtractions

not the minus and never that long division

            with its whole numbers and then the remainders,

the broken parts which are always left over –

            give us the fresh dead,

                        don’t leave us in the shatters.




GEORGE PERREAULT, a previous contributor, has worked as a visiting writer throughout the American West. His most recent book, Bodark County, is a collection of poems in the voices of various characters living on the Llano Estacado.


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