last night, a short segment came on the news
in between a report about a school fundraiser
and a story about firefighters saving a cat.

the story goes,
a student walking home in the dark
notices a body in an alley
lying in a puddle of blood.

nobody knows who this man is.
no family members have come forward
to claim him as theirs.

the funny thing is he has a little bullet-hole on the top of his head
right where the whorl of his hair meets
in a perfect spiral.

in a fifteen-second announcement,
before the news station cuts to a burger commercial
the local police department says they’re working on finding out
the cause of death, the guy’s family, etc. etc.

everyone knows in a couple days nobody’s gonna care.

the student who discovered him
goes back to his dormitory
then, buried in his courses,
he’ll forget this incident until
ten years down the line,
as he and his wife walk by the alley during their college reunion,
he’ll think,
“huh, i wonder if they ever figured out who that guy was.”

the world moves on.
the sun rises, the sun sets, the rain washes blood away

and lost to the mists of time
is the man who, in his immense emotional agony
shoots a gun straight up into the air
and, standing in this dark alleyway,
shuts tight his teary eyes

an atheist who spends his life’s only prayer
wishing for the bullet to find him again

rocking back and forth on his heels,
whispering to himself:
“glory paid to one’s ashes comes too late.”
as the red-hot steel hits the height of its parabola
and begins its screaming descent.