“The Massacre of Ciudad Juarez” by Michael Patrick McSweeney

I'm trying
to understand
your death,
that of a young man
in Ciudad Juarez

who sips beer from a plastic cup
and wisdom from an old boom-box
as it strikes mute the seventeen-year old blond
symbol of your wealth as she tries to whisper,
shift within a tight gold dress
against your bulging wallet.
You turn to your best friend;
he smiles through a thick beard
and gestures to the ecstasy pill eruption
that consumes the table before you.
You reach forward
to seize a handful of tiny white jewels,
but no one hears the front door shudder
away, the push of machine-gun fire
and heavy metal, the shatter
of glass and plaster and bones;
You're face-down, lying on the hardwood floor
while your stomach howls in dry agony
atop a crowd of fallen plastic cups,
whose blood mixes with your own
in a pool of crimson and gold.
You hear screams all around you,
crawl clinging to nearby wrists and ankles.
From beyond the kicked-in entrance
you see a mob of SUVs
roaring, their eyes awake like lit magnesium.
A hand seizes you by the hair and pulls you back,
back into the gun-fire symphony and screams,
past a heap of blond hair and dirty yellow fabric,
past a death-struck face, a boy's bloody beard,
past a doorway where I find it hard to follow you,
so far away from a life dragged into a grassy yard.

Rust-metal and yellow newspapers
huddle in groups like starving hounds.
The moon reflects off a windowless car
and someone laughs, fiddling with bullets.
I think of the cold urine
pouring down your legs,
and I am almost unable to write,
for you and I are of the same generation:
we drink the same cups,
love the same women,
and lose the same blood.

But I must,
because the world must know
that your eyes focus on the waking dawn
reflecting off a pistol's face
to ignore the darkened windows
where the faceless roots of moans
have grown intermittent, muffled.

Of this moment you understand as little as I do:
why these men stand so calmly
as their their trigger-fingers drip sweat
down to the night-moist grass,
their teeth alight with liquor and lust.
You'll never know--hell,
you don't even hear the gunshot;
just the brief shatter of teeth,
a sudden rush of air

that must wait for the rest of the world
to wake after it buried itself in dirty sheets
to escape the pang of lead.
When it rises and shakes the phones
the dogs will sing across the neighborhood.
Black body-bags will swing in the wind
as you and the rest of the children
prepare to return to your families.
In a few weeks the landlord will wash the walls.

Michael Patrick McSweeney is an artist and educator from the Boston region. His work has appeared in numerous journals and various regions of the Internet thanks to truly wonderful individuals. He is also the founder and chief financial officer of a used submarine conglomerate, the business website of which can be found at discountsubmarines.wordpress.com, and he hopes you have a great day.