Posted tagged ‘Ruby shoots Oswald poem’

Aftershock (November ‘63 – Kennedy’s Funeral, Washington, D.C.; Ruby Shoots Oswald, Dallas)

November 24, 2013


(November ‘63 – Kennedy’s Funeral, Washington, D.C.; Ruby Shoots Oswald, Dallas)

The black horse resisting its prance,
the turned-back boots, the sense of legs
invisible, and those thin red stripes
at the sides of the uniform
not there,
though there were uniforms
between the sheen
of metal, tears,
pale sun;
legs too, dark grey
as those trees they have in Washington
whose leaves always look turned
the wrong way out.

The stripes now gold
in memory, and maybe were some blur
of caisson; wheels so black
they blanched the avenue,
slow as the word ‘inexorable’.

A terrible hush of waiting,
even after the black bulk passed, for what would happen next,
save us,
my face stuck with the coats,
everything wool but my mother’s hand, and she,
not able to look down–

On the way home–and this did not compare, but still
was special–
we stopped at McDonald’s,
and it really did have arches you could park beside
like the screen of a drive-in movie; and the day
seemed almost to open, a sign touting all the burgers ever sold,
which then read 4
(millions or billions–I never was quite sure)–
till my Dad turned on the radio
over our grease-spotted wrappers–

The voice was back
in Dallas, and my mother repeated after it Jack Ruby? as shocked
as if Ruby were someone she actually knew, as if it were some acquaintance
who’d done something
so unheard of
(though of course she did not know Ruby,
though it was only America she thought she knew)
and every single line on her face darkened
like nightfall or a drawing of dulled lead–

The way she acted,
Oswald’s death seemed almost as important as Kennedy’s, as Kennedy himself
being shot, which I couldn’t understand–
but she stood up from the car, hand on her curled-hair head,
then sunk to her seat again, leaning away from the upholstery
the scaled blue-green of a 60s mermaid, leaning
into the parking lot–

Oh my God, she said–what is–and I kept thinking of that dark horse
whose flanks shone like lightning as it pulled back–happening–
and of the spider quiver of muscle
inside those flanks–
to this country?

And not a one of us–my big brother, me,
my Dad–said anything for a while.


My apologies to all who are saturated with remembrances of the events surrounding John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  I do not have a TV!  (Too many reasons to explain.)  So I’m a bit out of the loop with all the coverage.

I grew up in DC and attended both Kennedy’s inauguration and funeral. I was a very young child and do not remember much, but since I’ve been thinking about it, I thought I’d jot down some of what I came up with it.

I am linking this to the open link nights of both dVerse Poets Pub and With Real Toads. I feel a bit behind with the season but have been working a great deal so have had little free time.  Take care, and thanks all for your kind visits and wonderful inspiration.