I wasn’t there when his wings melted, but after,
I came to admire the brushwork.
It happened again last night—more young people dead
when a string of pops scattered the music
at a school, or was it a club and a single shell
packed with nails? We’re all feeling it, this stuck
anger like a wooden block of kitchen knives,
and more than our thoughts and prayers are not enough:
showing one another those bodies
split open like gardenia blossoms,
turning our forearms skyward
and letting our blood leave us like breath.
I hear the dead beating against the screen door
with the moths and the June bugs,
but I won’t move. I wasn’t there when it happened.
We weren’t looking when Icarus fell, and so couldn’t see
his legs in the green-black water
like arms raised in surrender, or with questions,
couldn’t see that he didn’t die from pride
as we’ve been told. But the fault wasn’t ours either.
We were at work—tending our gardens, learning
to stick a vein—steady as Earth, revolving.
I was writing a different poem.
I took over fifty lines of anger out of this one.
Not for the dead, or at the attackers,
but that there can be any response other than grief
and fellowship and change,
that most of us have already begun to turn
toward the next collapse.
ONDŘEJ PAZDÍREK is a Czech-American writer and translator. He is the winner of the 2017 Beacon Street Prize in poetry from Redivider. His work has been nominated for the Bettering American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies. His poems and translations have most recently appeared in The Stockholm Review, Willow Springs, Western Humanities Review, PANK, Guernica, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Meridian, and are forthcoming from Gulf Coast, among others. He lives in Iowa City with his wife and two herding dogs.