#GunViolence: At the Movies (Habemus Papam) by Anne Harding Woodworth


It’s a quiet one, We Have a Pope,
the one about the pope
who doesn’t want to be pope.

Quiet, yes—up to the clap of thunder.
The pope’s in for a downpour,
and yet sun radiates over Rome.

Turns out the thunder is my own, our own,
in the night sky outside the theatre.
Reality has infiltrated fiction,

the way real and unreal blurred
over the Aurora, Colorado audience,
into a chaos of bodies on the screen

and bodies in the rows and aisles.
Screams, gun blasts, swat teams,
sirens, smoke surged

from behind the scrim and in front of it.
Real blood shone as rose-bright
as any artful wound in a studio.

More thunder. There’s no telling
the difference between what’s out there
and in here. Mindless celluloid holds up.

Behold the antihero, as Zeus bombards,
wounds, kills, and shakes walls, sides,
front and rear, seats of velvet,

until no one on earth knows
what projection is, who the holy father is,
and whether we have one or not.



Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry and four chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook is The Last Gun, an excerpt of which won the COG Poetry Award, judged by A. Van Jordan. It has subsequently been animated and can be seen at http://www.cogzine.com/watch. Harding Woodworth’s poetry, essays, and reviews appear in the U.S. and abroad in print and on line, such as in Poet Lore, TriQuarterly, Crannog, and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She lives in Washington, D.C. where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Photographs of scenes following Aurora theater shooting by Algr.

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