Two Poems by Alexandria Brooke Tannenbaum

These two poems by Alexandria Brooke Tannenbaum explore the trauma inflicted by gun violence on teachers and students, and the fear that can often envelop new mothers…

by: Alexandria Brooke Tannenbaum

active shooter villanelle 

spread long after clean up 
chairs a silent sculpture balanced as a barricade 
how faint can a scream muffle? 

the fog of what ifs follows us back into the building 
sneakers wet with sticky grass they line up like baseball cards 
spread long after the clean up 

blew into the belly of these days 
sticks his finger deep into the pot’s earth to find the source 
how faint can a scream muffle? 

white walls flash and siren song  
field heaving heavy with run — we try to find our footing 
spread long after clean up 

the mold silently spreads 
walls fat with float with news with drills 
how faint can a scream muffle? 

to watch the way girls braid panic into their curls 
spread long after clean up 
ears pressed firmly against the classroom door 
how faint can a scream muffle? 
An Obsession Is Never Just Repetitive Thoughts 

It is opening her door late at night, my hand a fluttering wing landing on her chest. My breath a stop sign. It is the cold metal click of a deadbolt. It is checking the car seat as the heat buckles and waves and then leaving my desk to check one more time. It is not a light breeze and ice clinking against the sides of a drink on a lounge chair, lazy conversation, but rather the edge of the pool—jagged concrete, and water barreling down. It is a greedy tide. Broken shells littering the sand. It is the bottom of the pool where hair rubber bands and band aids are schools of fish moving back and forth in the current. Obsession is a cell phone search. It is a Find Maddie poster, the edges curled and rain soaked. It is backyard sheds with moss creeping through the warped wooden boards. Obsession is the far off footbeats of every patron in a crowded mall. Her hand in mine, but somehow the lifejacket slips over her head and she is submerged. Fasten the seatbelt tighter, but somehow it snaps. Cut the grapes—each one a half moon, but somehow one still gets stuck, the shed still stands, and Maddie is never found. 

I used to carry her in wraps that sealed her body to mine. Her fingers strumming the soft side of my neck. And each siren that sounded in the distance was another frantic tally mark on an already congested pediatric waiting room clipboard. Staring off, pen dangling from fingers, trying to find her name. 

Alexandria Tannenbaum is a poet and twice National Board Certified educator working outside of Chicago, Illinois. She is pursuing a poetry MFA from Lindenwood University. Her poem “The Strip Mall” will be appearing in an upcoming publication of As It Ought To Be Magazine. 

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