this year death has torn
open our hearts from public
squares, to schools, movie houses,
parks, malls, and the sacred halls
of church. in the circles made
for prayer, no one even imagined
more than twenty-four thousand
innocents dropped by the barrel of
guns into the earth’s dark void. when the
glad times are recounted, we will remember
to speak of the black cloths laid on the boxes
of the dead, holding hands for yet another evening
prayer, and the everlasting despair making us in so
many different ways ask of you God what have
the victims done to make you so weak for them?
before the year ends, we will sing and pray in the
midst of darkness to proclaim you are still light,
but say you really hear the howling, deeply feel
the hurt, and clearly see the bitter tears? Oh, dear
Emanuel, break your centuries old silence and tell
us who to blame!

–h. j. Recinos, author of Word Simple (Wipf & Stock, 2017).