When you had no words ⸺
for your son in law who wept every morning for two weeks after Uvalde
when he dropped off your grandchildren at school,
or for your daughter, a fifth-grade teacher and mother
who wanted to leave the country because she was afraid every day
and could barely sleep.

          When you couldn’t conjure⸺
platitudes or reassurances,
offer consolation or guarantees,
or your usual common-sense wisdom,
and for once in your life you were bereft of words, silent
grieving for the children cut down before
they could be.

          And you hoped and prayed,
maybe we had finally reached the tipping point with Uvalde
that we didn’t achieve unbelievably after Sandy Hook or Marjorie Stoneman Douglas.
Could Congress soar above bipartisanship
with new gun control laws
our leaders demonstrating integrity and unity,
battling for a greater good?

          Still nothing has changed
and incidents keep happening:
in a Walmart, at a L.B.G.T.Q. nightclub, university campus, a parade.
And the ultimate grievous act,
when a first grader came to school with a gun
and shot his teacher.

          There are no words.
And don’t dare offer your thoughts and prayers.
It’s way too late for those.

After retiring in 2009, one inspiring writing workshop launched Joanne Jagoda of Oakland, California on an unexpected writing trajectory. Her short stories, poetry and creative nonfiction appear on-line and in numerous anthologies. The pandemic inspired her first book, My Runaway Hourglass; Seventy poems for Seventy Years.