SGT. BRADLEY TALKS EMERGENCY PROCEDURE
We come to when he says raise
all shades, when he says snipers
will take high ground, will be
our eyes, and when it starts,
he says, stay down, says
all hands on heads and single
file when you exit; it’s
standard op, he says, too many
backpacks and experience has taught us
they’re innocent until the bullet’s
in your chest. Here’s the word
that means lock down. Here’s the room
where you’ll huddle. Here’s the only knock
that means it’s safe. Anticipate.
Drill. You think you won’t,
but every study shows
you’ll lose your head. I don’t mean
to alarm, he says, but
three hours plus a day right now
those kids are playing games
that train a boy to squeeze off rounds
like this, this, this. And this is how
it happened in Moses Lake, and this
is what they did in Jonesboro, and this
is all you didn’t want to know
of Littleton—the homemade fractals,
the detailed schematics. And you,
he says, are our best defense.
Paunch and bald patch, sag
and bad dye, we’re cataloging long
coats and sullen stares, running
the percentages, calculating second-story
drops and the density of fire doors.
Our minds are buzzing television.
We can almost hear the story
spinning off the perpetual machine.