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Somewhere Last Night (a poem)

Updated on August 2, 2011

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

Creative Commons Creative Commons License Deed Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Creative Commons Creative Commons License Deed Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

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.

Creative Commons Creative Commons License Deed Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Creative Commons Creative Commons License Deed Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source
A shooter's sharp eye, a signal,
the trigger, the bullet,
a promise to serve and protect
whatever the means,
no matter the cost,
now questioned.

The hostage and neighborhood's safety
successfully secured
a madman's design repelled,
insanity thwarted,
normalcy - balance - returns.

Creative Commons Creative Commons License Deed Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Creative Commons Creative Commons License Deed Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

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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    • Aficionada profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Oh, Flora, I am so sorry to hear of these tragedies! I once began tabulating the tragic events involving people I knew personally or their close relatives - dreadful accidents, suicides, some who had been murdered and even some who had murdered, and I was stunned to see what a list I had accumulated.

      I realize that in other times and places, we might know or know of more people who had died (or killed others) in wars, duels, plagues, and famines. Even though the details of the calamities change - thank goodness! - the existence of tragedy seems to be constant. Among the enduring questions of literature and of life itself would be: what leads to these tragedies? how do we overcome them? how do we prevent them?

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a beautiful poem. There are tragedies all the time and some involving people I know-knew-personally. The son of a friend of my mother's -I grew up with him-was murdered in his home, likely it was amatter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time during a robbery. The case is unsolved and with homes being far from each other, not many witnesses. Somehow, I do not think Karver's murder will ever be solved. Two of my high school classmates committed suicide the year we turned 28. In fact I lost 6 classmates total before turning 30. One man was trying to be a good samaratan by stopping a knife fight and died in the process. He was a sweetheart.

    • Aficionada profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Indiana, USA

      I know what you mean, WillStarr! But for me, some things are easier to let go than others.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I've learned to accept the things I cannot change, and let God sort it out.

    • Aficionada profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Thank you for reading, Binaya.Ghimire, ubanichijioke, and Poetic Fool, and thank you for your kind comments. You have all caught the spirit I was trying to convey.

      Comments to news articles I have read indicated that the gunman had already fired shots at the officers; that he was holding the gun to the head of his hostage; and that the attempted negotiations had been going on for some time, with no improvement. There really seems to have been no other option that would have saved the lives of the people around the hostage-taker.

      I agree that the bravery of the officers carried out a necessary form of protection that most of us, including me, would never be able to fulfill; and like Poetic Fool I feel most for the officer who had to fire the fatal shot. I'm thankful that there are people like him (or her) in the world.

    • profile image

      Poetic Fool 

      7 years ago

      Such a tragic story and though so sad, thank heavens there are those willing and able to go to such lengths to secure our safety. I'm not sure I would be able to do it. While I try to have compassion for all involved, including the gun man, I feel most for the officer whose hand was forced into taking a life. You did a wonderful job conveying the tragedy and waste of it all.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      Sometimes when we face situations too hard to understand, we tend to ask questions. Since the hostage situation was curtailed, we have hope of a better future. The events of yesteryears is a big lesson for the future. Awesome poem

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Your introduction to the poetry well explains pain and suffering you try to evoke in your poetry. Very touching.


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