After Words

by Paul Martínez Pompa

Even the sidewalk aches. Burnt out street
lights bow down as if ashamed. Somehow

the fat oak on the corner dodged the bullets.
So did the bus-stop bench no one ever sits

on. A child, her mothe, both struck
with panic moments after the first pop.

There's something surreal about being
shot at. How the snap of gunfire

pauses you. Then the rush of blood,
like an electric shock, to the brain. Horror

& elation of being alive. Soon crucifixes
& candles will drape this corner

like a hand-me-down blanket. Of course,
no one seen nothing. Only the sound

of lead wedged in a young man's back.
After the neighbors, the cops will

interrogate the liquor store security
video across the street. This chore

of solving the crime, like trying to piece
together a jigsaw puzzle, blank side up.

Last updated February 24, 2023