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Little Mother at Columbine for CPE
by Dana Pattillo

1. Little mother cannot

Little mother cannot
lift herself from the ground.
Little mother cannot
stop the lying prayers:

Cannot lift the shadow from the valley,
cannot blow the ashes from the body of light,
cannot lift the body weighted with vacated bibles.

Little mother cannot stop crying;
she is donating molten tears to the cup of a hollowpoint,
pinned down at the Red Cross.

2. Gloria patri

Upon this lead will I build my church.
This is my gunpowder,
this is your blood,
take, eat,
for whosoever dies of this gun
will die forever.

I have hung the erlking, the king of aspens
upon your crucifix.
Burn this cross,
I have written what I have written.
In press release,
in op-ed,
in rock'n roll.

Truly, these are your only
forgotten sons, the ones
that bit the bullet that fed them,
prodigals that cut to the chase
without ever leaving home,
that cut to the bone
so fast their knives
whistled while they worked.

Yield up the ghost,
open the graves,
shake the bodies of these saints
which sleep awake.

Little mother, you dwell
maybe forever in that space
between the sixth and ninth hour,
when darkness was over the whole suburb,
when the doves dropped dead from a red sky,
five petals of white rain.

3. The love that does not know its name.

Little mother, we cannot see you,
our skins have gone blind in this blue glow.
We are all blind men shooting the elephant,
and we love to kill it,
and again
replay after replay.
Little mother, we cannot see you,
except through our trigger fingers.

Little mother, you cannot touch us.
We are lost to open hands.
We found our true love in the click
under our fist, that sentimental fist,
tattooing the air with blue hearts,
writing mash notes
in the semaphore of bruises
on the technicolor flesh
of our most darling cadaver
like smoke signals written with atom bombs.

Little mother, the man on screen
can garycooper
this our daily soundbyte
in his corresponding trenchcoat,
but he cannot get the drop
on wyatt and doc
on butch and sundance
with their flashing hairtrigger remote controls.

Little mother, for all your lamenting
you cannot lament us,
we cannot hear you,
nobody can hear;
every wail rises not to heaven
but falls an unheard clink
like spent shell casings
during full automatic fire.

Virtual death is almost weightless,
it gives you a lift,
but then you jones for the real thing,
Any real thing
you can kill.

All this fresh young murder
has the steep gravity
of dark star collapsing,
a black hole sucking
everything, even light,
into itself.
The landscape tilts,
all snakes, no ladders,
become a funnel
to a universe of death
smaller than an electron.

Little mother, at the end
the guns grew heavy in our hands.

Little mother, all the bibles
grow heavy too.

4. This concludes our broadcast day

Little mother cannot listen
to the sermon anymore,
its words are too heavy
to lift to her ears.
Such kind words bespeak
a kind of inattention,
a lack of feeling for this landscape
and its inhabiting spirits.
The sentimental journey
in signs and parables;
the ten commandments
in 12 easy steps;
hope, faith, and charity
filing for Chapter 13,
the greatest of these
is no virtue,
when you are trying
to pay attention,
and you can bet her life,
little mother is paying attention.

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