Somewhere Last Night (a poem)
Yesterday morning, we awoke to news of the tragic end to a local hostage situation on the previous day. I have been haunted by thoughts of the individuals who were a part of it: the mayor, the chief of police, the gunman, the hostage, the witnesses; the people in the neighborhood who were told to remain inside; the convenience store owner whose building was sought as a refuge. Most of all, the Critical Incident Response Team that had the responsibility of ending the impasse.
What was going through the hostage-taker's mind? Why did he walk for several blocks, holding his arm around the woman's neck and holding a weapon to her head? What had brought him to that point in his life: why was he so desperate and uncaring?
I really can't imagine a different ending to the sad standoff, but questions always remain. Could there have been any other outcome?
Somewhere, a pillow
Somewhere Last Night
Somewhere last night, a pillow
salt-soaked and comfortless
accepted the sorrow, the grief,
the hollowness of truth
from the day's brutal waste.
Somewhere in our town, a rifle
well-oiled and obedient
weary from labor, but sure,
lay resting and cooling,
its true aim accomplished.
A shooter's sharp eye, a signal,
the trigger, the bullet,
a promise to serve and protect
whatever the means,
no matter the cost,
The hostage and neighborhood's safety
a madman's design repelled,
normalcy - balance - returns.
What price, my ease, complacency,
the air I breathe?
What cost, the lesser evil
of two tragic paths?
What flippant freedom,
extravagant illusion, delusion:
the luxury of living with hindsight.
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