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Saturday, June 12, 2021


by Ron Riekki

In a Royal Palm Beach, Florida Publix filled with lunchtime shoppers, a man Thursday walked into the produce section, fatally shot a woman and her young grandson, and then turned the gun on himself, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. —Palm Beach Post, June 10, 2021 [Photo credit: GREG LOVETT/]

Another shooting, this one at the grocery store where I go 
every week. Sixty separate shootings throughout the US 
today, and the day’s not done, except the day is done, a day 
shot, shit, really. Forty-five injured today. Forty-five. I hate 
that number. Jolts into my mind, cold, the radio announcing, 
TV announcing, ex-girlfriend announcing, Isn’t that the store 
you always go to? A grandmother dead, her grandson dead, 
a one-year-old boy, in “the produce section.” And what does 
America produce? Twenty-one killed today. So far. Suffer 
is what we do. Grandmother. One-year-old grandson. Blocks 
from me. I went there yesterday, bought bananas, bread, beer. 
My ex- says, you know, I’ve never read a poem where some- 
one wrote simply, ‘Fuck the NRA.’ You should do that. She’s 
Haitian, hates guns, has this way of saying curse words where 
you feel Shiva is in the room. My ex- before my ex- had 
a brother who committed suicide, how she died after that, 
disappeared in my hands, turned to ghost, still alive, but I 
felt her slip through my arms, gone, like morning. I drove 
by the store, the tape around it, sign saying Closed to Sunday
how empty inside, and not, how if felt filled with ghosts, so 
many of them that you couldn’t see anything but the dark 
of the dead pressed together in the heat of the day. How hot. 
My air conditioner in the car broken. How hot. Drowning 
in it. Forty-five. Twenty-one. Three. And one headline 
that sticks out from two days ago: “‘Our kids are becoming 
faster rate than years past.” Far. I’m south Florida. So far. 
And the fear is that we’re numb, that we’re OK with numbers 
now, how we’ve gotten used to this. How hot. How hot.

Ron Riekki co-edited Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press).