Poor Odds

“Burned all my notebooks. What good are notebooks? They won’t help me survive.” – Life During Wartime, The Talking Heads

The death count rises from a first-grade class in Connecticut.

My mother is a teacher at an elementary school.

Last week a woman, born the same year as she,

Was struck and killed in front of an elementary school,

About five minutes’ drive from hers.

Beneath my big lonely 1 the denominator is shrinking.

Improvements in life expectancy do little

For me a man already born in 1984.

Ten years ago this fall a father & son

Drove around Washington, D.C.,

Shooting people in front of schools

–          Called themselves angels.

I’ve kept the notebook from that time.

What good is there in reading what I wrote?

Could I make something of whatever

Appeal to G-d I made.

I’ve got loose lines, like,

“Blessed be G-D who causes bread to rise,”

Or “we have modest demands: wash your hands”

Recently orphaned & looking for a poem.

but what are the chances they’ll get through?

One thought on “Poor Odds

  1. From Jeff’s first writing journal and date October 9th, 2002:

    “And I find myself, again in Algebra-Geometry class. Once more, I need to pee, though I can hold it without fear of wetting myself. That’s one of the few things I’m afraid of. That scares me, but not as much as a Maryland-marksman with a Messiah-complex. My alliterations are beyond my control.
    ‘Dear Policeman, I am God’ written on the Death Card and left aside a bullet casing. We are being judged and punished, one at a time, by a sniper with delusions of the grandest sort. We have reason to be afraid. It only takes one carefully aimed bullet and it is over. I’m afraid. But I assure myself that ‘God’ only kills those in the Maryland-DC area, so I’ll be fine.
    I’ll be fine, I keep telling myself. I’ll be fine. Oh god, let me be fine. Leave me be, guard me from wannabe-you. Protect those I love and those who love me.
    That’s really selfish, though, don’t you think? Why should I be spared judgement by the Messiah of Maryland? What have I done that makes me worthy of life more than a 13-year-old boy in critical condition in hospital. Or 6 others now dead at the trigger of a madman’s rifle?
    But, please, Lord protect me. I fear the insane, who stalk the Earth for prey. Who give judgement to others and execute sentence. Who slay not just the innocent, but the random. Lord, protect me from the randomness of death. The unpredictable random nature of death.
    Yet, that is what life is; a series of random poorly connectable events. There is no great plan, pre-ordained scheme of things. It is all random. There is no point to pray, but still, I will fall to my knees and look to the heavens and beg for protection.”

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