By Brian S. Ellis

the problem with the sound of gunfire
is that it doesn’t always sound like what it is.
Sometimes you hear a door breaking open,
sometimes you hear a guitar being unplugged
with the amp still on, sometimes
you hear your neighbor drop their end of a piano.
The problem is that sometimes
A prayer is not the first thing to escape your lips
but a curse, an annoyance at what you thought
was broken glass,
when you could have been wishing time into reverse
for another man’s blood to return to his body
sometimes we are born with other people’s blood in our bodies

The Thirty-Nine Bus had come to a screeching halt
parked in the middle of Centre Street akimbo
the doors open, hazard lights on
frozen in time. The moment of another man’s decision.
The firefight must have been dazzling.
Gunshots spilling into the street. Flashing like dance-lights
A narrative shocking enough to demand a satisfying end.
Twelve-thirty three in the morning,
I was the only one on the sidewalk.
I felt like a ghost.

nothing is ever what it is.
It terrifies me to think
that no one reacts to car alarms.
The world is screaming at us
and we are so likely to sleep through it
I would bargain my blood
to know where everything belonged

Brian S. Ellis is a performer and a writer that lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. He has been on numerous slam teams and toured all over North America. He is the author of two collections of poetry; Uncontrolled Experiments in Freedom (2008), and Yesterday Won’t Goodbye (2011), both from Write Bloody Publishing. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times.