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Friday, August 12, 2016


by Rasma Haidri

CBC News photo of Munich mall shooting mourners superimposed over Munich Beer Hall photo from

The snap from Munich shows my daughter, her boyfriend,
a guy with glasses, all holding plastic beakers
of beer, half empty or half full (depending, right?)
She texts:         Nice today, no clouds!
                        Spending afternoon at music festival
                        in the neighbor village

I peer over her shoulder at the tiny crowd of bare legs,
shorts, tank tops
      Text:                BE CAREFUL!
then try to find a smiley that means: I don’t want to be one
of those mothers but baby, please
don’t go to a music festival in a Bavarian village,
not this week - I send the one with gritted teeth, maybe
that’s how I feel, follow it with pink hearts, just in case
      She texts:         Haha I will smiley heart kiss
New snap: crowd closer, I see eight and a half full
bodies, five times that many heads, myriad arms and legs,
it’s a mass of youth - always young people these days, at camp,
a mall, concert - how will she be careful? And why do the men
in this crowd have no faces? They block each other, look down,
turn away from the camera, all but that guy: black eyes, but no
backpack, or that one gazing at nothing, what he’s thinking?
I don’t know, I don’t even know what ‘careful’ means

Three thousand miles away, all I can do is practice
my tenet of blind faith
      Text:                HAVE A GREAT TIME!
add, as sacrament, the smiley with cool shades, scroll
with invented optimism to get the party hat and dancing senorita,
musical notes and microphone, and because she is still my daughter,
not one of the numbered in Munich last month, write       I LOVE YOU!

She sends two more snaps
                              Really nice here smiley heart kiss
                              I love you too!

and I see him: baseball cap, at the edge of the frame
or there, left center, wearing a fedora, dark beard, or at least
a five o’clock shadow, and he’s carrying something big and black,
a bag, and wearing a watch - or that guy staring straight at me
around the shoulder of a wild 1960s shirt, he’s got that
clean-shaven Anders Behring Breivik look

Ding, alert: in the final snap they are on the ground,
boyfriend, sister, my daughter between them, screaming
smile, wide surprised eyes, making that pose
all millennials make, the ones who grew up seeing themselves
on digital screens in fun Mountain Dew commercial scenes

I stare at the photos, it was just such a concert last week,
a village in Bavaria like this, a young man like him
or him, or that one under the tree -- there are so many
standing in groups or alone
looking down at the screens of their phones
as I do here, at my own

they are scanning the crowd for Pokemon
I am looking for the kid with the gun

Rasma Haidri grew up in Tennessee and makes her home on the arctic seacoast of Norway where she teaches British and American studies. Her poems and essays can be found in anthologies by among others Pudding House, Seal Press, Bayeux Arts, Marion Street Press, The Chicago Review Press and Grayson Books, and in literary journals such as Sycamore Review, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, Runes, Kalliope and I-70 Review. Her most recent poetry can be found in, Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Abuse and Oppression of Women.