Daily Distraction: Read the new poem by Saeed Jones

The Columbus poet, essayist and author recently shared the title piece from his forthcoming book, 'Alive at the End of the World,' due in 2022

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Saeed Jones in the Short North

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old opened fire at his high school in Michigan, killing at least three and injuring eight. This impossibly bleak occurrence mirrors the sense of tragedy woven into "Alive at the End of the World," a new poem from Columbus writer Saeed Jones, released today via his Werk-In-Progress newsletter.

The poem, which you can read in full here, emerged during a time when Jones grappled with the apocalyptic nature of 2020, a year shaped by both an emergent global pandemic and a resurgent Black lives matter movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

“I think what I’ve learned is the apocalypse is a state of being, and it’s not a linear, one-time event,” Jones said in a November interview with Alive. “Every time there’s a mass shooting, every time a cop shoots a kid and gets away with it, every time we learn about a sexual assault and it’s just paved over and someone becomes a Supreme Court justice. Those are all apocalyptic, world-ending events, or at least they should be, because that’s how meaningful they are to the people implicated."

Recent events in Michigan, reflected in the new poem's closing lines, are similarly world-ending, leading us to again weigh what we as a society will continue to allow to happen to our children, as well as the accumulated scars to which this inaction will inevitably lead.

Jones writes:

With time, the white boys

with guns will become wounds we won’t

quite remember enduring. “How did you

get that scar on your shoulder?” “Oh,

a boy I barely knew was sad once.”