News Poetry: Bird in the Hand


They’ll tell you a gun in the hand

is worth ten kids in a classroom, teacher

guarding the door. Here he comes,

killer. Something made him so.

A soul too wounded to speak

will write its injury in blood.

Red hieroglyphs read: hello again.

They read: shameful nation.

Uniforms come to net him before he flies.

We send prayers, and our children

to school slaughter. Their friends

fall, swallow mouthfuls of ground.



Photo credit: Hoggarazzi Photography, 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


  1. Jeez. Brutal as far as poetry goes. Thank you.

    Yes, don’t try to reframe the topic: we ARE talking about SCHOOL here. The school where kids go. Babies, toddlers. Adolescents. Hilarious Pre-Teens. Teenage people. Aspiring young adults.

    School isn’t a euphimism to strike through and downplay. It is a sacred safe. A safe sacristy. Don’t try to convince an entire public that we’re concerned about something other than this mustbekeptpure space, as the poet suggests that you are doing with the strike through.

    Keep the type face pure. Keep the conversation right. No guns in classrooms!!!

    Stop reframing the conversation as “military zone muz’ be protected.”

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