#GunViolence: Reverse Bachata by Matt Hohner

Latin Night, Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016

The blood sucks back from the dance floor into his
mouth, into his nose, his body uncrumples and he stands,
the round stops bouncing around inside his cranium,
stops turning his brain to jelly, gray matter pulls and folds
back neatly into his skull through his cheek, skin closing
behind the bullet it as it leaves him, backs through a woman’s
shoulder blade and out of her chest, so fast now, spinning back
into the barrel of the man’s AR-15, explosion of gunpowder
re-condensing as the firing mechanism eases away from the
round, trigger moves forward, finger relaxes, and he walks
backward out of the club into the darkness, opens his trunk,
slides his gun back into its case, un-parks his car and returns
home, walks backward from his car to his apartment door,
slips quietly back into bed, time reverses faster, the sun
unsets for a do-over, he grabs his Quran instead of his gun,
reads Mohammad’s verses on tolerance and grace, his pain
lifting like an azan, calls his father to tell him something he won’t
want to hear, but must, because the sound of a father weeping
for a son who has accepted himself is preferable to the sound
of forty-nine others’ loved ones weeping because their sons
and daughters are now dead, and won’t be coming home
late after dancing the night away at the club ever again.



Matt Hohner, a Baltimore native, holds an M.F.A. in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His work has been a finalist for the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, taken both third and first prizes in the Maryland Writers Association Poetry Prize, and won the 2016 Oberon Poetry Prize. Hohner’s work has been published individually in numerous journals, including Rattle: Poets Respond, Free State Review, and Crab Orchard Review. His book-length manuscript Thresholds will be published by Apprentice House Press in Fall 2018.


Photograph by Orlando Police Department.

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