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Monday, May 04, 2020


by Rikki Santer

for Sandy Scheuer (August 11, 1949 - May 4, 1970)

Before high school homeroom
as I slide the black arm band
over my bicep I remember
slices of what I knew of you:

in the cafeteria a half-eaten
grilled cheese with your army
of half moons claiming its
triangle of bread—

in civics class the waving
of your palm for the clean
target you made of each question—

in the hallway showcase
the beam of your grin
pronouncing where you were
destined for a first year of college.

This morning you are a distant
schoolmate, one-year ahead
but now a ghost
wish—if you
hadn't walked to class, stepped
into M1 crossfire, stained ground
with your jugular’s flow
became another memorial
for sacrifice biblical & bought.

Author’s Note: After half-a-century, the horror and sorrow of the May 4th massacre that occurred on the Kent State University campus still resonates close to home for me. I light a Yarhzeit candle each year for my classmate. This year, at the fifty-year marker, I wrote this poem for her.

Rikki Santer’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications both nationally and abroad.  Her work has received many honors including five Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eighth collection, Drop Jaw, was published by NightBallet Press in the spring.