Driving Home (Crack, Boom, Pop)

Crack, boom, pop

The news ricochets around the room like a bullet

It explodes in our ears

Crack, boom, pop

Right near the playground

The report says

The playground I played on

When I was just a child

Now spattered with blood

 

The video plays on a dozen phones

All crammed into a basement for a party

We watch, wondering, worrying

 

One of the boys lives a block from where it happened

The report said they were shot in the car

Will he end up with a bullet hole too, driving back home?

We ask this out loud

No hesitation

Just modern survival.

 

I offer him a room at my house

He almost accepts

We say we’ll wait a few hours

And then drive home,

Heads down.

 

Refresh the news page

Loading, loading

Nothing new

None of our friends’ faces pop up

But they could

What if it was him?
What if it was me?
What if the party was a few neighborhoods away

And we were right there when it happened?

 

I tremble

But I shouldn’t even need to

I’m not the one who will drive past the police cars

All pointed toward a patch of blood on the playground

The one we all played on as kids

I won’t go near the suspect’s last known location

Identified, but not in custody

The very threat to our existence

 

I drive home in darkness

My arms shake

Knuckles turn white

I keep picturing it

A bullet through the windshield

Maybe he’ll start firing without killing me at first

And I’ll have to swerve and drive for my life

But one of the bullets will strike, right?
How could I even avoid something like that?
How do you keep a bullet from entering your car and skull?

I run over a snowy curve

Ice scrapes against metal

My body shudders and

A car honks behind me

Keep it together

But the image of my blood on the pavement replays

An endless broken loop

What if it was me?

Whose faces will show up on the news report?

 

I shake

My heart beats like there’s a gun to my head

Sometimes it feels like there is now.

I didn’t feel like that before.

 

I get home.

There’s something different

A strange, new vibration

That shakes through my bones

One I didn’t feel before.

 

I now worry about the

Crack, boom, pop

It echoes louder in my ears now.

 

How do I silence it?

I never wondered this before.

But now it reverberates in my body

If you cut my skin, dig into my bones

With the knife’s edge,

All you will hear is

Crack, boom, pop

 

I worry.

How do I keep myself safe?

How do I keep others safe?

Must I never return to that playground?

I’ve never worried about those things before.

But now,

Every night

I get in bed.

Drift away

Dreams full of

Crack, boom, pop

Flashing images of those two boys

Replaying in my head,

Their minds silent,

No longer full of

Crack, boom, pop

And worries about how to silence those noises forever.

 

But now,

With my mind full of

Those images,

Those noises,

Those tainted memories of the playground,

I stand before the world,

Small may I be,

And ask for it all to quiet and fade.

 

This poem is about: 
Me
My community
My country
Our world

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