Poetry Lesson After the Las Vegas Shooting

by Elizabeth Oxley

Do not write the word heart.

Like every overused word,

its meaning has bled out,


the way snowflake, repeated,

dissolves into sound.


And thoughts becomes nothing

but the tongue thudding

against teeth,


and prayers, a puff

of air that vanishes.


What you want is new language.


To say that someone

looks different from you,

say beautiful.


When you want to convey

anger, try saying mercy.


When you ask What now?,

say something that’s never

been said.


If you must speak a word

to death, make it


gun gun gun gun gun.