Saturday, May 4, 2013

Poem on the 43rd Anniversary of the Kent State Shootings

Close to My Heart

[Kent State University
May 4, 1970. 12:24 PM]

Forty-three years ago today,
National Guardsman’s bullet,
shot 293 miles from my college dorm,
blew through my chest, landing at my heart

where it remains today. The Doc said,
“It’s too dangerous to remove. You’ll have to live
with the chronic ache.”

That day, while my cousin Maggie ran through a fog
of teargas to the Theatre Building, and high school friends
watched from the corners of trees and buildings,
Guardsmen, not much older than me, bayonets fixed--

and then, in the chaos, sixty-seven shots ring out 
on Blanket Hill.

Four dead, nine others wounded, untold traumatized,
Guardsmen and students alike. I, 
with pericardium,
peri-anima trauma,

called up Mom and Dad, back in Euclid,

Crying and yelling at them, total innocents,
for being . . . what? . . . adults, easy targets
for my pain.

Hope they forgave their hurting son,
hope the pain around the hearts of Ohioans,
Kent Staters, Americans,

hope the pain

Robert M. Coughlin
May 4, 2013

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