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As contributing editors of this column, we have always encouraged submissions from writers and students of Literature. In this issue, we are pleased to present an offering from musician and poet Christian Scott Green. The author has provided an introductory statement which describes the inspiration for his poem and shares valuable insights into the process by which it was composed:

A Tragedy (In One Act) is part of my first collection of poetry, conclusions delusions and musings on time, published in 2021. As a drummer and lifelong musician, my writing came about through my passion for rhythm and my love of the written word.

The inspiration for this particular poem came to me after scrolling through social media platforms on the day that Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash. I was struck by the magnitude of shock and the outpouring of pain expressed by so many people from so many different walks of life. Kobe Bryant was widely known as an exceptional basketball player yet I, who am not much of a basketball fan, was deeply stirred on hearing how their lives had been cut short. Their sudden deaths seemed the very definition of “tragedy”.

As a child from a family of psychologists, one of whose primary focus is on psychological trauma, I have long been sensitive to the broad reach and lasting effects of disaster. These aspects of trauma are components of the poem but I primarily wanted to illustrate the often abrupt, unpredictable nature of tragedy and the accompanying feelings of helplessness. I also wanted to convey the unfolding of grief without offering the reader “answers” because the predominant emotions in the immediate wake of traumatic events are bewilderment and fear.

Although love is certainly powerful and often portrayed as universal, in my estimation it is suffering which no single one of us escapes. In my own experience, Art has the unique ability to look the most difficult events squarely in the eye while still tempering them in some way, and, in the best cases, even rendering them strangely beautiful. If this poem leads to further discussion or proves capable of helping someone feel more connected with others in their own recovery, I would be gratified to have played even a small part.

A Tragedy (In One Act) 

as he crashes through the door.                                                                                                                                
Without a knock. Without invitation.                                             
The impact shakes every wall.                         
Family portraits hang untrue
in newly cracked frames,                                                                           
frozen smiles belying disbelief.                                                           
Alarms wail for what is already lost.                              
He strangles time for two heartbeats.
His lifeless eyes, plotting, search the room,
do not abide any looking away.                                                                                                                              
The stench of him spreads out, crawling up stairs,                                                                                                          
underneath beds, to torment sleep;
oozes through floors into the cellar,                                   
to rot the foundation and leave permanent decay.                           
His destruction is swift. Complete.                                    
In what seems only a breath, he is gone.
The neighbors gather, preparing their sympathies,
struggling to find reasons when there are none.
Those inside sit shocked and silent,                                                                                                                               
staring through tears at a turn in the road,                                                                                                                             
and begin the long wait for a fractured peace.   
Christian Scott Green (© 2021)
*A Tragedy (In One Act) originally appeared in conclusions delusions and musings on time, by Christian Scott Green, 2021.