49 lives seems too high a price.
What would it have cost
to turn aside? To let live
and live his own life?
A kiss can—yes!—be life changing,
but only for the ones whose lips
are reaching for connection
in that holy or unholy moment,
in that moment of lust or love,
of forgiveness or goodbye.
Goodbye to 49 young lives
robbed of farewells.
The night’s promise, their lives’
promise, the promise of another day—
broken. Dreams ashed and trashed
and turned to dust. Aspirations
and inspirations collapsed
into expirations, their last breaths
taken. Dispiriting: their spirits flown
like a breath, like a flush of air, the air
thick with grief. We cannot breathe.
We cannot breathe. We must
take them in. Breathe.
Yvonne Zipter is the author of the poetry collections Like Some Bookie God and The Patience of Metal and two nonfiction books. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and periodicals, and her novel in progress was a semifinalist for the 2016 Del Sol Press First Novel Prize.