Code Red

Danielle DeTiberus

means that we have to pause our lesson

have to file into some hidden space

means that we musn’t talk though

they all giggle — try to check their phones

& light the whole room up from beneath

a spooky sleepover trick where we’re all

lit from below — become the ghosts they ask

me to tell stories about — please tell us

a scary story ms detiberus & I shush

them wait for the fake gunmen to shake

the door & scare us into silence

this means it was a drill after all just

another disaster practice — reminder

that our world is still a series of stacked

spheres — glass blown so thin uneven

footsteps down the hall could break us

no such thing as a safe space — maybe

there never was & I have fooled myself

thinking this body could be shield or brave

enough — bodies warm still on top of other

bodies down the street in charleston

up the road from where I was baptized

in newtown — in orlando in vegas so many

frantic bodies running away from

no I won’t think of that now in the dark

office bolted shut — not sitting in traffic

after the last bell — the armed school officer

waving me on — not when I hear the echo

of dropped books tunneling towards me —

instead I’ll dream the red of my country

as poppy fields — countless unblinking

eyes refusing to turn away — my fists not

idle but worth a damn — red roses

gift for the beloved means I’m yours

forgive me — prayer of the penitent

color of the heavy heart beating with

a knowledge before instinct before

duck & cover & quiet & please —


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