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Wednesday, October 04, 2017


by Heather Newman

A police officer directed a bystander off the crime scene on the Boston Common. JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE, September 12, 2017


On a mid-September afternoon
in historic Boston Common
multiple gunshots were fired
near the bandstand, among bystanders, a brazen act,
police called it, locals say this never happens in Boston,
                                    it’s a college town.
A nineteen-year-old Hyde Park man
was critically injured. The shooting triggered
chaos in one of the nation’s oldest parks.
Police chased a man into a trolley tunnel at Arlington station,
a gun was recovered, three are in custody.              
Police believe it was not a random act.
But this is not a poem about terrorists or home growns
or viable solutions for
public safety.
Authorities say an argument preceded the shooting,
all people involved in the incident are known to police
                                    and it’s unclear if it’s drug or gang related.
This is a poem
about those who dodge a bullet and
those who are not dead, yet


She calls me crying, barely able to speak, and I fear the worst.
Twenty minutes before, we had been chatting. She was
                                    on a mission to discover
a farmers market. She loves her classes, her roommate.
I’m thrilled; this wasn’t her first choice of schools.
Please, God, don’t let it be rape.
She tells me she ran from gunfire but she’s safe, back in her dorm.
I’m relieved. School is in lockdown.            
On the internet. Looks like they caught the shooter.
She says she thought about playing dead instead of running.
We had discussed this right after Sandy Hook.
                                    I’m in New York City and I’ve never run from gunfire.
Twitter says two of the three suspects fled on mopeds.
Impossible, she says. Those guys on the red vespas were not the shooters.
Are you sure you want to get involved?
She spent hours at police headquarters, couldn’t sleep for days.
I flew her home for the weekend, took her shopping.
                                    Statistics say this shouldn’t happen to her again.


“When you hear ‘active shooter,’ you run . . .”
this epidemic, these pleas, how many die before
                                    another one
“It sounded like fireworks . . .”
flags lowered, legislation, time for congress to enact
                                    another one
NRA, massacres, stranglers, bombers, revolutions
prove we can’t stop
another one  
“These are happening too much, these shootings,”
thoughts and prayers, in God we trust
                                    another one


But back to the Common.
This story won’t be found on CNN or Fox News,
The New York Times or The Washington Post.
It was just another boy
not enrolled in a college, somewhere in critical condition.
And three unnamed others, who knew each other and were known to police;

                                    they were released the next day.

Heather Newman is an MFA candidate at The New School (NYC.) Her work has appeared in Voices from Here, Vol. II, TheNewVerse.News, The Potomac, Two Hawks Quarterly, Aji Magazine, Matter, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and eChook.