I. One more gunshot, one more sad song. One more bullet
to the head. It's a presummer night's rave, partier's haze
of beer bottles and empty threats.

But one, not so empty: crack that rends
the silence, tears the virgin night to leave
a cracked and broken
husk, a bleeding shell
with a criminal record.

While I'm thinking boyfriends and babies
a stranger is dying at the end of my street, his so-called
friends too strung out to know what's happened.

When the cops show up they're still
smiling, comprehension not quite kicked in.
They'll only show that footage
once - focus on the tragedy, don't admit
no one's learned a lesson.

Misery sells.

II. And at school the halls are silent
as a grave, as a seventeen-year-old
with a punctured lung. I think about screaming...
just to see who notices.

Extra counselors on payroll today, telling kids
their future and their fortunes. If it's too emotional here
you can go home and watch Ricki Lake. Meanwhile
dozens are crying in the halls, some sporting RIP t-shirts
like fucked up Mousketeers.

plugged the fence with dixie cups to spell
WE LOVE YOU! Apparently, the key
to popularity is dying young. When he was alive,
all they did for him was talk trash.

I didn't know him. I'm a world
apart - no tears, no hangover, no sympathy
for the devil. Come Friday,
they'll do it again, one more game
of Russian roulette, Spin the Bottle
with a .45.

And I will still be here, writing these poems, like
one more bullet
to the head.


A/N: For Justin. I didn't know you, and this is all the tribute I can give. May your death stand for something.