Instructions for Writing to My Son on the Tenth Anniversary of His Death

No one wants to hear about the day you left—
the phone call your sometime, bad-news friend 
made at 3:26 that morning, 
his thick summons: Come, come right now
You won’t believe what he just did.

                           [Tone it down, please.]

No one wants to know how I shook
your mother awake and shivered out of bed, 
how Something’s wrong, very wrong 
slivered from my gut as I jumped 
into a pair of jeans, raced down the back steps 
and found you in our driveway—
in your last breath, a Glock in your lap. 

                            [Touch pain softly and only once, then step back.]

No one wants to hear about you. About this.
About me and my slice of Afghanistan, my cut 
of Syria and a brown kid’s blood on pavement,
my hunk of Sandy Hook and the Vegas Strip—
the countless times I’ve watched you die.

                            [Use metaphors, an obliqueness of phrase.]

The world will not be cornered into listening. 

                            [Give it a volta, a turn toward light. End it there.]

For you, for this, there is no place  
but the dark before dawn, the long night unslept,
the scream not screamed. 


Justin Hunt grew up in rural Kansas and lives in Charlotte. His work has won several awards and appears in a wide range of publications in the U.S., Ireland and the U.K., including, among others, Barrow Street, Five Points, American Literary Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, New Ohio Review, The Journal, Solstice, Arts & Letters, Cloudbank, The Florida Review, Bellingham Review,, Southword and The Bridport Prize Anthology. He is currently assembling a debut poetry collection.