top of page


Alison Granucci is a poet, writer, and woodland gardener living in the Hudson Valley. In 2005, she founded Blue Flower Arts, the first U.S. literary speaker’s agency to represent poets, and upon retiring in 2020 began writing her own poetry. She has work published or forthcoming in EcoTheo Review, Great River Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, and Little by Little, the Bird Builds Its Nest (Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid), an anthology by Paris Morning Publications. A 2022 graduate of the Brooklyn Poets Mentorship Program, Alison serves a reader for The Rumpus. On the topic of gun violence, she’s published two essays: “Straight to the Head” (Turning Wheel), and “Shot into Life” (ReVision), which received an Honorable Mention in The Best Spiritual Essays (1997). Follow Alison on Instagram @alisongranucci


You’re lying on the floor next to a good friend

when you hear the soft rustle of pillow

like the one your mother used to swaddle you as a child,

this one used by the man standing behind you

to smother the sound of gun, a soothing cushion for him

to cover his lover’s mouth,

when out of the corner of your eye

you see your friend arch her back

away from hard floor then back

& in that flash you know nothing

in life is random.

It’s true when your eyes are closed, it’s dark.

But when I opened my eyes it was darker.

This is how I learned to see.


Lord, O My Lord, if Death is not the god

I can most believe in, what is? We are animal

bodies on an animal earth — from Death we come

and to Death we return. Here, then

there. Some thread remains. The green-blossom pearly mussel

is extinct yet I do not believe in the end stop

Lord, O my Lord, if I did not forgive the stranger who came to my door

in the moment of his shooting me I swear the bullet was still mid-air

I could not have gone on living. Against that edge of fluke: one-sixteenth of a millimeter

between bullet & brain face down in the landscape of rug, I still push —

the way I’d pushed him instinctual my small body fierce against animal —

when he pulled the gun.

Still, he walked over & through the edge of door

I unlocked.

O, I do believe in Before & After.

Lord, O my Lord, was forgiveness the prayer that linked us?

the amazing thing: forgiveness happened

What else could have collapsed that wall of fear?

I didn't ask to forgive; I just did

Or is “prayer” just another word for “staying here?”

what my body knew it had to do to survive

Now I push word after word after out of this pen.

I am here, alive

in a world of tables and chairs and kitchen windows.

I haven’t seen a bobolink in years.

Lord, O my Lord, when my pen is inkless

I ask of you only this: let it run dry on a line



with a line by Linh Dinh

How the shooter says, “With this gun I am not afraid to . . . ” How the poet says, “Don’t say, ‘The bullet yawed…’ Say, ‘The bullet danced inside the body.’”

How I say, “My body, prostrate and praying was holy with the bullet in the body.”

How the body says, “Dance? Did the bullet say dance?!”

How the dance says, “Watch me twist & turn & burn with the tumble of the bullet body.”

How the bullet says, “My tumble touched your temple body, yes, it blessed your sweet head.”

How the head says, “No, your goddamn godless gun body blew a hole in my skull.”

How the hole says, “Now I wear a crown of red. Yes, I am a holy body.”

How the holy says, “Once released, the empty shell is nothing but a ghost body.”

How the ghost says, “Forever in stillness, my spirit fills you. You can let it haunt or guide you.”



mom lashed out again,

been sleeping on the street again

the cops keep circling

the kids keep kicking

I con a few bucks, pretend

to be a homeless vet

that always gets a couple of 10s

put down 16 for a bed again

at the plaza — can’t keep a job

fixing cars the guys just stare

can’t stand being

home with mom

just have to split again

get away from 4th and Broadway

all the voices in my head

just got that urge

to drift again wearing my Harley t-shirt,

got my Harley jacket, bandana round my head,

never bother

to comb my hair — just look right

through my eyes in the mirror

VA card’s in my pocket, conned it

somehow, I mean, who thought

I’d go to that jungle war

when I’ve got a jungle in my head

just gotta get on that Peter Pan

bus to anywhere

never been east before, damn

better tell mom

I’m going

when I deserted the Marines in ’73,

mom told them ‘AWOL from his mind’

but the split in me knows

just what I’m doing

faking flashbacks to Nam

always gets me a room and food

at the VA hospital wherever I am

off the bus in Yuma Arizona

used to live here

know there’s no law here

keeps someone like me

from buying a gun

now I’ve got a snub-nosed

.38 in my pocket

concealed, like me

on the bus

got a ticket to Vermont

be there in a week


The abyss —

Those are two words

to start a poem

but why not

start there

I mean, why not start

with the hole

that the bullet —

But no, let’s not start there

let’s start before the bullet

when the air was still pure

Before the pointed cylinder of lead

yawed on its trajectory to my —

but no, let’s not start


there was a time when I was a child

and played with childish things

Let’s start with the gun

look into that black hole

let it draw the bullet back

let its mouth inhale the thing whole

there was a time when I was

Before the gun

let’s start with the door

there was a knock on the door

I opened the door

But before the door

let’s start with my name

or, wait, was it his name

let’s start with “Can I give you my —

there was

when I was

before my name.


bottom of page