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Dies Ire (We Interrupt Our Regular Program)

by Allison Chestnut

“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” someone

tweets, but few Twitter readers give reply. I was in

second grade, too young and innocent to know how this day

became the day separating hope from now, the way a

cook who cracks the egg cuts yolk from clear mucosal white.

My teachers didn’t tell me. My world retained simplicity ‘til

home revealed that nothing would be simple any more.


In 1968, as I read Romeo and Juliet, Dr. Martin Luther King

went to Memphis. The evening news at supper showed the

footage–black and white--of fingers pointing to another

building window, another man slumped silent past a medical

reprieve. This balcony held lovers of a different sort, still

universal in their scope, as are all dreams whose dreamers

do not live to see their dreams complete. In June, my school


recessed. I woke in time for Captain Kangaroo. Instead, I saw

unedited in color or in sound, fear moving face to face, and

face to floor then loud in voices lacking nationalities. Fear and

grief are universal homonyms, vowels naked without consonants

to bind them. RFK, bloody on the floor, re-dies with each

network news broadcast. This will not touch me here at home.

I am too far removed for politics to make a point in death.


“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” the anchor tweets,

but few if any readers answer him. Who remembers Lennon shot,

the Berlin Wall or Towers crumbling into dust? History barely

grazes cyber consciousness, yet children know the enemy at large,

who sits at lunch and smiles their names, who goes to Sandy Hook

and Columbine, and haunt with emailed threats on social walls: how

well they know the enemy so close, so unsuspectingly like them.

Allison Chestnut has been published in Foliate Oak, Caveat Lector, The Southern Mule, Windhover, Wordpeace and Minerva Rising. Her poem "County Road 518 at County Road 24" received a 2016 honorable mention in the 2016 AWP Intro Journals Project competition. She received the MFA from Mississippi University for Women where she studied with Kendall Dunkelberg, Mary Miller, Shayla Lawson, and TK Lee. She has read poetry at SAMLA, SCMLA, Mississippi Philological Association and the Conference on Christianity and Literature. She holds the PhD from Louisiana State University and is currently professor of English at William Carey University.


November 2018

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