A Lament for the Times Before

Jessica Peter

The night has never been so long, as the katydids chirp their song.
With damp hands, I pray, I hope. But they got so many to go along.

The radio, with rants and hate, brought so many to demonstrate.
I understand what’s happening, for I know what rage can create.

Then, a clamour in the streets. Lost, I shrink deep down into my sheets.
I won’t accept what’s happening; my traitor heart still skips a beat.

Tucked in, hiding in my bed, with that constant companion: dread,
I wipe my clammy hands, pulse running marathons inside my head.

While I lay sweating in the dark, a not-so-distant rifle barks.
I curl up tight, repress the sound; but now there’s screaming from the park.

A shadow creeps across the wall, the throng maintains its forward crawl.
I train my ears toward the din, and right outside, a lone footfall.

I see this city must be cursed. The next-door neighbours get hit first.
I hope and pray, and clench my fists, but now I expect the worst.

Horrific crashing from their place. I keep seeing their youngest’s face.
Nothing will be the same again; some sins can never be erased.

I shut my eyes, rest a while, pretend that no one would hurt a child.
But there’s so many in the mob, becoming ever more hostile.

Smoke slithers up from wrecks, suffocates me inside this complex.
The building shakes. My door splinters and cracks. I know that I am next.

Jessica Peter is a social worker and health researcher from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where she lives with her partner and their two black cats. Her stories and poems all tend toward the dark, the uncanny, or the absurd. You can find her and her work in the upcoming Howls from the Dark Ages: A Medieval Horror Anthology, on Twitter @jessicapeter1, or at www.jessicapeter.net.