News Poetry: Poetry Lesson after the Las Vegas Shooting

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.



Photo credit: Ben Townsend, Creative Commons, Flickr

Elizabeth Oxley is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She road-tripped west several years ago to make her home in the Rockies. Her poetry has been published in literary journals such as Peregrine and Ruminate, and she was the 2015 third-place winner in the United Kingdom Poetry Society’s international poetry competition. Elizabeth makes her home online at


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