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Saturday, August 03, 2019


by Mark Danowsky

News of another shooting—

This time folks in a Walmart in El Paso are unlucky

I listen to the hourly recap while I wrap my ankle—seems I rolled it
in the process of loading the U-Haul

Tomorrow I’ll drive the 15’ truck 300 miles from West Virginia to almost safe
suburbs 9 miles outside Philadelphia

9 miles is the space I’ve been driving strangers all over this mad college town
more than a year now

I’ll drive strangers in the new space, too, though I hope to avoid airport staging
in spite of the possibility for decent fares

While packing, I called the $20 Walmart coffee table and the $8 Walmart shoe rack
my “staging area”

We carried that staging area to the trash earlier

Now on NPR they’re talking about a staging area outside Walmart—
families trying to find each other after the terror
forced upon them by an active shooter

I don’t know if they’re still putting children in cages at our southern border but
the images I’m conjuring are horrific enough

A man with a gun enters a public space to disrupt as many lives as he can

Another man with a gun takes a child from his father’s arms because
he says the father failed to properly change a diaper on their endless journey

Remember when we started to build that bridge to nowhere? It’s hard
to think badly of a bridge when for years now there’s been so much talk of walls

After unloading the U-Haul at the new place I’m going to get a few necessities
at the local Walmart

I’m going to go because America gets back on the horse
even if we forget what caused us to fall

I’m going to go to Walmart because it can’t be like Aurora
when the cashier at the A-Plus says I look a little like the shooter and I don’t
enter a movie theater for the next four years

I’m going to go to Walmart because sometimes
going to Walmart isn’t about class or flag-waving or quality or luxury

Sometimes Walmart means America and we just have to nod and take a knee

Mark Danowsky is a writer from Philadelphia and author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Eunoia Review, Gargoyle, The Healing Muse, Kestrel, North Dakota Quarterly, and elsewhere. He’s Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.