Four Houses Down

Did you hear anything?
The officer scribbled in her notepad,
eyes hidden behind dark glass.
Less than a hundred yards away
a gun had gone off.
The report must have echoed
through walls, through windows, through skulls.

Our house was a sonic entity
inhabiting Beethoven’s ghost.
When the symphony ended,
we heard the helicopters,
their blades a mathematical theorem
working against gravity
with noise like lawnmowers in heaven.

We saw our home from the sky
on the evening news.
They announced that the girl,
an eleven year old
with blonde tips in her hair,
just home from her first day
of sixth grade

had died
of a gunshot wound.
Later we learned it was her father,
already a convicted felon,
already breaking the law
with a gun in his hand,
telling lies to cover his mistake.

I know I had seen Timea,
riding her pink bicycle
up and down the block,
chased by friends
and sometimes a dog.
The yellow police tape
shivers now, plastic static in the wind.

Neighbors placed teddy bears
and bouquets of roses in their yard.
The sky grew dark as it always does,
and we stayed out late,
beer on our breath as we looked up
to watch the Perseid meteors
fall down like white tears.

Jay Sizemore was born blue, raised by wolves, and learned to write by translating howls. He doesn't regret his wisdom teeth. He thanks you for your concern. His work can be found here or there, mostly there. Find him at, or, if you're a stalker, in Nashville, TN, where he may or may not really exist. Read other articles by Jay.