And still they come, drums rolling, headlines parading across the page,
phones dinging at dawn, another

news cycle, Dear God, not again, pendulum of freedom swung too
far from our stalwart ancestors

who braved a tyrant, stoned a global Goliath then became colonizers
themselves—trained weapons

on first nation peoples, couldn’t walk a mile in their moccasins—history
reloading, repeating

down the brief New World timeline to the present, where so many of us
arm ourselves against the Other

that a plenitude of guns in pockets, purses, waistbands and nightstands
makes it second nature

to react to threats—concrete or imagined—to differences in skin tint, eye
fold, sexual preference,

god or gods worshipped, ballot boxes ticked, eliciting reptilian fear,
amygdala pouring stress

hormones into our systems, fight response cascading from brain to nerves
to fingers which itch to press

a trigger like we practiced at the shooting range, ignite gunpowder, propel
a projectile at our target,

any veil between instinct and action lifted, no chance for second thoughts,
for clemency, lives

snuffed out like candles at vigils where loved ones crumple, where
bouquets and teddy bears

line fences outside schools and synagogues and dance halls and mosques
again and again and again and again