Emily Rose Cole is the author of Love & a Loaded Gun, a chapbook of persona poems in the voices of mythological and historical women, published in 2017 by Minerva Rising Press. She has received awards from Jabberwock Review, Philadelphia Stories, The Orison Anthology, and the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in American Life in Poetry, Best New Poets 2018, Carve, and River Styx, among others. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is a PhD candidate in poetry with a focus in Disability Studies at the University of Cincinnati, where she is a Taft Fellow. Her website is www.emilyrosecolepoetry.com.

Finalist, 2019-2020 COG Poetry Awards

In the event of another mass shooting,

Emily Rose Cole

we’ll offer condolences in soundbites & status

updates. On every outlet, shaken citizens,

disc jockeys, slick-haired comedians & politicians

will stand with [location here]. We’ll rememorize

that same pat speech about how, as a country,

despite deep national fatigue, we’ll cleave

together despite this unexpected new

tragedy; how we are all [areligious present

participle] & [religious present participle] for the victims

& their families, who will recover (eventually), how

our [positive adjective] nation is greater than hate, etc.

Mention will be made, probably, of mental health

care. Pundits will argue about whether terrorist

is an appropriate label. Memes will be processed.

Other pundits (or perhaps the same ones) will recite,

angrily, the second amendment. We will reinforce our

mythologies. Sign petitions. Delicately craft emails. Insert

credit card information. Congress will deliberate.

In the midst of everything, hope

will take whatever form it will:

             petrichor, shed snakeskin, a good song

             on the radio, second harvest, crocuses whorled

             through snow, a kitten’s just-opened eye.

We’ll look to our children. Or our nieces.

Or that brown-eyed boy down the street, almost

six now, & wonder whether, in twenty years,

or fifty, this problem will have finally resolved itself.

Whether, perhaps, a jarred door, or a burst cork,

or the hard clatter of any heavy thing falling

will sound, to him, less like a gunshot.

Ode on Small Things

Emily Rose Cole

Praise to the airplane’s early arrival, the lone olive

fattened with gin, the stranger helping me muscle

my luggage into the bin. Praise to the unburgled

apartment, the unexploded buzzbomb that never

killed my great-grandfather, the jittering bat

released, unharmed, into the summer swelter.

Everywhere, everywhere, a wonder—sing glory

to the compassion of children. To the pastured

filly shimmying in the ryegrass, to the architecture

of eiderdown, the complex firing of a synapse.

To the rough cough interrupting Handel’s

Messiah, praise. Hosanna to the body’s indispensable

frailty. How vulnerable we are. How luminous.