by Candice Kelsey
Today, we are ordered into total lockdown. I tell my students to cluster away from the doors, Avoid direct visibility of scope & crosshairs. 12-gauge semiautomatic shotguns, Glock 20s rarely miss. Their assignments become locking doors, stacking Desks in barricade, turning out lights. I would gladly, without any hesitation, take A spray of bullets for them, but I put aside my courage For now. Instead, I take the red emergency folder: Evacuation Procedures for Teachers. The five-step mnemonic seems to mock us— C: remain Calm L: Listen for instructions E: Evacuate the building in a quiet, orderly manner A: Assemble in the designated area R: Roll is taken Today, before the drill began, these teens Had been joyfully designing Sir Gawain's pentangle shield As an exercise in close reading & creativity. Now, the colored pencils scatter the tile floor like bullet casings. My students are huddling closely As we wait for the All-Clear announcement. I Circulate the room struck by their Medieval shields: The five joys of Mary, the five wounds of Christ, the five tenets of the chivalric code. I want to order them to stop. I want them to forge a real Five-point shield to carry into the ether Of battles they will face— terrible giants real & supernatural, bent on slaughtering the innocent.
Portrait with Green Background
by Uee Jung
Candice Kelsey [she/her] is a poet, educator, and activist currently living in Augusta, Georgia. She serves as a creative writing mentor with PEN America’s Prison & Justice Writing Program; her work appears in Grub Street, Poet Lore, Lumiere Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and Slant among other journals. Recently, Candice was chosen as a finalist in Iowa Review’s Poetry Contest and Cutthroat’s Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Her third book titled A Poet just released with Alien Buddha Press. Find her @candicekelsey1 and http://www.candicemkelseypoet.com.
Uee Jung is a tenth grader attending Seoul International School in Seoul, S. Korea. Her current artwork involves experimenting with color and figures.