collateral damage


Groping slow-motion, sluggish

from sweetly dreamless sleep to

grasp thin robe, grab slippers in dark

to investigate the insistent rapping

on dorm room door.


Startle at troubled faces in collar and uniform;

an awkward visitation of starless midnight.

Stumble backwards toward rumpled bed,

mental fog pierced clean through as

unthinkable words erase reality.


No, dear God, NO!

Push the black panic away,

the fierce pain back into the Pit.

This monster is too horrible…

The incomprehensible can NOT happen!


Now dressed in fragile, trembling resolve

Must identify the broken bodies of beloved.

Bloodied, bruised by a violent vault of metal.

On white sheets, the cold tearless truth is blinding–

Absolutely alone on an axis-less earth.


Past numbing decisions and funeral’s fatigue,

grief rises from mounded grave sites

to suffocate this single survivor.

Nightmares and misery move in with baggage;

Wild sobs drown out the phone’s sad ringtones.


Anger burns at Death’s unrelenting greed;

flashes hot questions at God — “Why did YOU allow this?!”

Turns away from helpless friends’ futile comfort;

bends inward on already shell-shocked soul as

depressed thoughts, ghastly guilt clutch the mind.


Without permission, days and seasons move on,

and the others dare to go on living,  apart.

Faith’s mystery is always the epic struggle;

whether or not to trust…

to accept the inexplicable…beyond belief.



(With prayers for Brittany Vollmer who lost her family on February 23, 2013.)

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