New Orleans Lullaby

by BRAD RICHARD

Hush, everybody, stop all your crying,
you’ll wake the bullet that wants my baby.
Go to sleep, everybody, and when you wake
you’ll have a circus with swans for horses.

In a vacant lot in New Orleans East
lies a bullet-ridden girl, still breathing.
Gnats and dragonflies veiling her eyes,
she whispers to the weeds for her sweetheart.

Her sweetheart’s body is cooling in the morgue,
a bullet in his head instead of dreams.
When that bullet grows up, it wants to fly
like the heart of a horse in the circus.

Hush, people, I’m tired of all your crying,
you’ll wake the bullet that wants my city.
Go to sleep, people, and when you wake
you’ll have a circus of murdered swans.

Brad Richard is the author of Motion Studies (The Word Works - 2010 Washington Prize Winner) and Butcher’s Sugar (Sibling Rivalry, 2012). His poems and reviews have appeared in many journals, including American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Gettysburg Review, Guernica, Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, New Orleans Review, Okey-Panky, Sakura Review, and Xavier Review. He directs the creative writing program at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans and co-curates a LGBTQ reading series, The Waves.