Sunless, white sky day, valentines
day, Massacre Day.
Tired winter trees drifted gauzes
of moss like nurses on call, their arms
draped in bandages, while the shooter
waited, a young shooter, distressed man-
child with bullets to grind as school emptied
for the day, Valentines Day.
After the bell, students dreamed, tender
nebulous dreams of the uninitiated. Some
were wanting their sugar fix: chocolate, cupcakes
sprinkled and frosted pink, or a plate
of mom’s cookie hearts waiting for them
on the kitchen table. Some were hoping
for an invitation, a text, even the tiniest sign
from the cute guy in sophomore English,
the one they whispered and giggled about
with their best friend between classes.
Some carried backpacks filled with the secrets,
the promises of first loves alongside their trigonometry
text, their history homework, their college
application. No one was thinking
about the lonely boy, the raging, lonely boy, the thorn.
And so, with no warning at all, the blood
of those students, their backpacks heavy with
plans and dreams, sprayed fountains
of shiny cinnamon hearts into the airless sky, the
white sky, echoing screams instead of birdsong.
Blood bloomed scarlet roses by the dozens
on sidewalks, the stairs, in the corridors, oozing
harsh crimson as petals tore like pages ripped
from photo albums, from family bibles.
The shooter was a crazed cupid, sad, enraged and
arrowing bullets: targeting innocence, shooting
hearts. Terror exploded, lost screams pop, pop,
popped and shocked eyes will never un-see
friends lying prone and garish when the day
made for hearts and flowers became
holes through hearts and flowers on graves.
Virginia Boudreau is a retired teacher who splits her time between Nova Scotia, Canada and Saint Augustine, Florida. She can often be found on a beach in either location. Her poetry and prose have been published in a wide variety of international literary magazines and anthologies.