Back to School

Dread hangs in the air
Of this free and violent land
Our eyes constantly gaze
To what’s in the stranger’s hand
Sometimes we don’t dwell on
What has happened and what soon will
But then our thoughts are refracted
When the light grows way too still 
Those we love
Those we don’t
Those we’ve met
Those we won’t
We are the audience
We are the participants
Both victims and perpetrators
Despite our reticence
They say freedom has a cost
This we all know is true
I suppose how you judge what it is
Depends on what the word free means to you
They head back to school
As fall approaches in the air
May the strangers inscrutable gaze
Be looking far from there
Gene G. McLaughlin 2019

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