out of the depths we cry to you

our souls melt for heaviness;

they are weary with sorrow

they are downcast

bowed down to the dust.

Our tears have been our food

day and night.


We mourn for the loss of Your children

who came to what they hoped

was a space where they could be safe

and the space was violated.


They were teachers and parents

great friends and brand managers

overprotective brothers and army captains,

contagious personalities and pharmacy technicians

good kids and assistant producers

blood brothers and ride operators

the best godmothers and Target employees

beautiful souls and high school graduates

cancer survivors and baristas

dancers and the kindest people you could meet.


But first and last and always

they were, and are,

Your children.

We mourn for them.

We are in mourning.

And we will not move on

we will not move on

no matter how undignified it may seem

or how uncomfortable anyone becomes

we will not move on

we will not move forward

we will not move away

we will not move from this spot

until we have flooded our beds with weeping

until we have soaked the dirt with tears

until the roots of injustice are permeated with grief

and while we grieve we wait.


We wait for you, oh Lord,

more than watchmen

wait for the morning.


And we ask, “who can show us any good?”


Let the light of your face shine upon us, oh Lord.

for only You can turn our darkness into light.

Surround us with songs of deliverance.

Cover us with Your feathers,

give us refuge under Your wings,

prepare a table in the presence of our enemies:

for those we have mistaken for our enemies

but are brothers, sisters

whom we are called to love

because we are the Church

even if we don’t understand

even if we don’t agree

if we can live in complete unity

then the world will know

You are Love

and they will know us

by Your Love

the Love only You can do

for You are Love

and Love

is a promise that preserves our lives,

everlasting to everlasting,


full of redemption,

always protecting,

always trusting,

always hoping,

always persevering

always displaying your power

among the people

the people whom

You Love

You Love

You Love

with a









One thing we ask

this is what we seek:

for Your children lost,

Your children here,

Your children here who are lost,

let us dwell in Your hiding place

the shelter of Your tabernacle

high upon the rock of our salvation

let us dwell in Your house

Forever and ever


Angela Again

Just then a moth flew into the living room, fussing about something. It fluttered in and out of our conversation, in a jagged line that peaked and plummeted like a lie detector.

This date was planned in advance. Angela texts a couples of days before she wants to meet. I text and suggest a day weeks after that. She texts to ask what day we decided before she writes it on her calendar. She texts the day before we meet. She texts the day of.

Angela’s favorite TV show is Monk. It’s about a detective with OCD, which is not what she has. She has a learning disability, which I always remind everyone, to remind myself. At her apartment, she leaves post-it notes all over so she won’t forget anything. At family gatherings, she keeps asking whose cup is whose.

When we’re together, I have to talk light – check my verbal baggage of metaphors, references, AP vocabulary – gaze as they slide and slip through rubber flaps, console myself that later they’ll come out on the carousel, going ’round and ’round, and I’ll pick them up again.

The moth landed as Angela watched. “When I’m running, I’m not in the run,” she said. “When I’m swimming, I’m not in the swim.” And she was not in the story.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“Thinking,” she said. “The same thoughts. Over and over. The same thoughts.”

Through Angela’s eyes I saw the thoughts, long, thick, dark covers, thrown over the world, everything draped with them, shaped by them, covered and collecting dust.

“About whom?” I asked.

She gave the names of her boyfriends. Just two of them. There have only been two. They were fine and nice and good and other adjectives that don’t modify anything. The first one was named Jones. He was 25 years older than her. We did not call him Mr. Jones.

I mean, they were better than the boyfriends in Lifetime movies, who begin as sweet and charming, but become jealous and controlling. Actually, I don’t think that transition would bother Angela, or us. We would all give him control, as long as he wasn’t too crazy and didn’t make her cry. Someone to watch over her.

“I wonder where they are, what they’re doing, when they’ll call,” she said. “But they’re not my boyfriends anymore. I know, I know that, but I wonder, I wonder,” she looked at the floor without looking at it.

“Why don’t I stop,” She said.

I started thinking about the men seeking men, flashing their portraits, lining the blank corridors of craigslist. How I would step towards and back from each one, asking can I like this? and selecting several, sending the e-mails, selecting one, meeting somewhere, not really liking them but really wanting them to like me. And later, wondering what it was for.

“Whose cup is this?” Angela asked, her hands hovering over them, like a magician.

“I don’t know,” I said.

Leaving the cups untouched, she laid hands on the armrests.

“Do you pray?” I asked.

“Of course I pray,” she retorted, in a rush of Catholic adrenaline.

“I’m not talking about waving your hands around and saying the same words over and over,” I said, looking at her.

She looked at me. Like she’d stolen something and now the owner was asking for it back, but asking nicely. Her eyes filled up.

“I stopped praying when the grandparents died, and Jones – ” she paused. “Now I pray to the grandparents.”

“Why do you pray to them?” I asked.

“Because they’re real,” she said. “I mean, I know God is real, but He isn’t real. To me.”

“You’re real to him,” I said. “He made you. He loves you. He likes you,” I paused. “Try talking to Him like you talk to them. Ask Him to be more real.”

The moth was flitting around a lamp now, and I wondered what compelled it: the light, or the cloth shade.

“But tell me,” Angela said. “Should I stop praying to the grandparents?”


It’s a short flight. I am just waking up from a nap, feeling that familiar whiplash caused by sleeping in a position other than supine. I creak and crank my head to the side to face my friend across the aisle. Her eyes are widening like two puddles of spilled milk.

“How have you been sleeping through this?” She accuses me, gripping the armrests as though they are her children and she is terrified of losing them in the terror. The plane, concerned that I might question the validity of her angst, obligingly rushes the bad weather like a bull, jabbing, wobbling, plunging.

Suddenly the entire preceding week seems worthy of only a garbage disposal. The woman in front of us begins wailing like some caricature version of herself. The flight attendants careen down the aisle, attempting to cloak their naked fear with calm faces. We are going to die. They know it. I know it.

We are praying now. Frightened prayers, humble prayers, angry prayers, genuine prayers. Without ceasing.

And then…the tires grip the pavement. The seat belt light goes off. Everyone gets up. Grabbing at bags. Gabbing into cell phones. Cutting in line. Cramming through doorways.

It is early morning, and the sun is shining.

It's Always Friday Night

I’m listening to the phone with my left ear when it whispers in my right ear.


That wet worst-kept secret we normally do in a toilet? There’s a guy doing it off a balcony. Just out of range, thank every god of every religion. I tell my phone companion; he isn’t offended: “Of course, I’ve done it before. Stroll to the edge, check for pedestrians, unzip the pants, look at the moon and take a leak.”

“I’ve never done it.”

I haven’t.

But I have pissed on a Staten Island street corner. It was 3am. No one was around. Urgent burn dissolving into dreamy relief.

“Are you enjoying yourself this evening?” I ask.

“Oh, hmmm, well…” his voice sounds like a feather boa, coquettish, ticklish.

The cold makes my muscles marble, then makes them throb. I wish I was indoors, drinking with him. Or just indoors. Or just drinking. Alcohol is a good criminal defense lawyer that represents us to ourselves as misunderstood, well-intentioned, promising. We are just fine, we have always been fine, we will always be fine. It’s a life sentence.

“I worry about you,” I say.

“Don’t worry, pray.”

“All right.”