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Lockdown by Drew Attana

But before the sound of fireworks, my student said,
“I just didn’t have the time to finish.”
And I tried to lecture over the the first
pops of the firecracker, thinking:
How could it be July already?

A lesson plan replaced by the language of
tennis shoes and heels slapping the polished tile.
Then doors began to slam, one after another,
thump, thump, thump,
like a ship taking on water—all hands
sealing their passages from the torrent.

My father told me his school had drills during
the missile crisis. They had to get
beneath wooden desks and lace their fingers
to protect their skulls from the coming blast,
a proper helmet against fiery debris.

And after I closed my doors, the
desk against one, my back against the other,
I demanded students do the same,
as if the scratched oak tops could stand
in opposition of lead, of focused hate,
of a rambling manifesto.

Then came the ringing in our ears,
the scent of a struck match,
the hashtags for change,
the candlelight vigils,
the presidential address,
the earnest promises,
the slowed trickle of information,
the changed channel,
the next story.
               And the next.
              And the next.

Still, the roll sheet is light one name,
someone who’ll never find the time to finish. 

Originally from Los Angeles, Drew Attana spent two decades kicking around the West Coast, getting into trouble from Tijuana to Portland, before heading to Cajun Country. His fiction has appeared in Pathos Literary Journal and he is currently living and writing in Lafayette, Louisiana.