It Takes a Calculator to Count the Dead by Leigh Chadwick

It Takes a Calculator to Count the Dead

The sun bakes an island on the concrete.
I wake up to the smell of sulfur.
The magnolias in the yard are refusing to bloom.
I never know where to rest my hands anymore.
Between starting this poem on a Friday
and finishing it on a Monday, there have been
at least eleven more mass shootings.
I consider praying, but I was never taught how.
I dress my daughter in camouflage
and carry her from room to room. I tell her,
I’m sorry I brought you into this.
I tell her, Pretend a miracle is on its way.
I tell her, Maybe this is how we
learn how to pray.

Leigh Chadwick’s poetry and prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Salamander, Milk Candy Review, Olney Magazine, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Bear Creek Gazette, among others. Her debut poetry collection, Wound Channels, will be published by ELJ Editions in February of 2022. Find her on Twitter at @LeighChadwick5.

After a Mass Shooting by Cathleen Cohen

After a Mass Shooting

Frantic. No names
have been released, you scour

the air for electrical flow
between loved ones. No

spirits touch your face.
How much pain

can a day contain
until the vessel bursts?

No telling how many fell,
their days, like grass.

You pace and pray
for resource

until he calls, his voice
assuring he wasn’t there

in that moment.
But things tilt.

Wounds arrive so often
they can’t be bandaged

or peeled off
like days on a desk calendar,

paper squares let loose.
So many were felled,

their days, like grass.
Winds pass through

but this place won’t forget.
This is not a psalm.


Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia ( Her poems appear in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, North of Oxford, Passager, One Art Poetry, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review, Rogue Agent, Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press, 2021).