In response to the terrorism attacks in Georgia on March 16, we present an excerpt from Sam Cha’s 2018 chapbook, American Carnage, plus one additional poem.


FUGUE: “A Briefe and True Report”1

“This American carnage.”2 “Persons attempting to find a plot
in it will be shot.”3 “The people began to die very fast, and many in short space”4 “Must we always kill the people?”5 “It was difficult to figure out where the exact reality was.”6 “It is obvious that this gentleman was disturbed in some way.”7 “We started praying for everyone involved.”8 “Somehow this has become routine.”9 “A recurring set of stylized images.”10 “With hollow points.”11 “The killer points his gun at the camera, then at his own temple.”12 “Dozens of guns were strewn around the room, some left inside a bassinet.”13 “Self-awareness is a wonderful thing.”14 “By and by I got down the gun.”15

“They quickly put the entire school into lockdown.”16 “Finally the last bus came and he wasn’t on it”17 “You just can’t imagine how this could ever happen in a great state like ours.”18 “Our discipline, our strange weapons and devices.”19 “This is a mental health problem at the highest level.”20 “Self-awareness is a wonderful thing.” “Mike Pence called the shooting an act of ‘unspeakable evil’”21 “Donald Trump previously called the attack ‘an act of pure evil.’”22 “A recurring set of.” ”Hollow points.” “Sending his prayers to the victims and their families.”23 “It was difficult to figure out where the exact reality was.”

“Somehow this has become routine.” “That they by our entreaty & for the love of us did make the people to die in that sort as they did by shooting invisible bullets into them.”24 “The invisible wounds of the Las Vegas Shooting could affect tens of thousands.”25 “Persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” “They said ‘we’re ramming him.’ I said, ‘Don’t ram him, shoot him.’ Fuck that shit. Ain’t gonna tear up my cars.”26 “It is obvious that this gentleman was disturbed in some way.” “Must we always kill the people?” “The sheriff laughed.” “A recurring set of stylized images.” “There are monsters like this monster out there every day.”27

“The attacker filmed a first-person view of the shooting and uploaded it to his Facebook page, where it remained for more than two hours and was copied, reposted and viewed millions of times.”28 “Like hollow points.” “You find a different way to live.” “By and by I got down the gun.” “There are monsters like this monster every day.” “The killer points his gun at the camera, then at his own temple.” “I always try to be different, but I always end up copying someone else.”29 “Attempting to find a plot.” “Self-awareness is a wonderful thing.” “A recurring set of stylized images.”

“They’re still holding out this little bit of hope.”30 “This is a mental health problem.” “I love this shit. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it, the sheriff said.”31 “This American carnage.” “A recurring set of stylized images.” “We started praying for everyone involved.” “We do not allow this kind of content on Facebook.”32 “If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that motherfucker they’re full of shit, the sheriff said, laughing.”33 “Where the exact reality was.” “Must we always kill the people?” “Mostly it’s considered best to kill them.”34

“Persons will be shot.” “By shooting invisible bullets into them.” “The shooter went online and searched for the terms ‘Pulse Orlando’ and ‘shooting.’”35 “Copied, reposted and viewed millions of times.” “Our strange weapons and devices.”’”I always end up copying someone else.” “The sheriff laughed.” “Self-awareness is a wonderful thing.” “Dozens of guns strewn around the room.” ”This isn’t a guns situation,’ Trump said.” “Sending his prayers to the victims.” “Invisible bullets.” “Hollow points.” “This routine.” “I thrive on it.” “Every day.” “The people began to die very fast.” “Monsters like this monster.” “By and by I got the gun.”

  1. From Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588).
  2. From Donald Trump’s inauguration speech (2016).
  3. From Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
  4. Hariot.
  5. Twain.
  6. From an internal memo for WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia, in reference to complaints made by Vester Flanagan, who later shot his former colleagues Alison Parker and Adam Ward on live TV (2013).
  7. Franklin County sheriff Bill Overton, in reference to Vester Flanagan (2015).
  8. Pastor Frank Buford, of the River Oaks church, in reference to news of the shootings at the nearby First Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (2017).
  9. President Barack Obama, in reference to shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon (2015).
  10. Malcolm Gladwell, paraphrasing the work of the French sociologist Nathalie Paton, in an article for The New Yorker, “Thresholds of Violence” (2015).
  11. From Seung-Hui Cho’s “manifesto,” sent to NBC (2007).
  12. Gladwell.
  13. From a LA Times article by Ken Ritter and Mike Balsamo, on the hotel room where the Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock prepared for, and executed, his massacre (1/21/2018).
  14. Eric Harris, in a journal entry dated 4/12/1998.
  15. Twain.
  16. From an article (“America’s response to school massacres? A booming classroom security industry”) in The Guardian, by Lois Beckett, in reference to staff at the Rancho Tehama elementary school in California, whose quick thinking likely saved many children’s lives  (11/18/2017).
  17. Tina Meins, daughter of Damian Meins. Damian Meins was killed in the San Bernardino shootings in 2015. Quoted in an article (“Stories of loss, love and hope: Six firsthand accounts from America’s worst mass shootings”) by Lois Beckett and Jamiles Lartey, in The Guardian (11/14/2017)
  18. Florida governor Rick Scott, in reference to the Fort Lauderdale airport shootings (2017).
  19. Hariot.
  20. Trump, on Sutherland Springs massacre (2017).
  21. Beckett, Lois. “’Monsters out there every day’: NRA refuses to consider major gun control.” The Guardian (10/8/2017).
  22. Beckett, 10/8/2017.
  23. Trump.
  24. Hariot.
  25. Title of a Washington Post article by Katie Zezima (10/6/2017).
  26. White County, Tennessee sheriff Oddie Shoupe, recorded on police body cam. In reference to the shooting of Michael Dial (2/11/2018). Quoted by Jason Hanna and Kaylee Hartung, for CNN.
  27. Wayne LaPierre. Quoted in Beckett, 10/8/2017.
  28. Solon, Olivia. “Family of man whose death was broadcast on Facebook sues social network” The Guardian (1/30/2018).
  29. Harris.
  30. [28]Beckett and Lartey.
  31. [29]Hanna and Hartung.
  32. [30]Facebook. Quoted in Solon.
  33. Hanna and Hartung.
  34. Twain.
  35. Smith, David and Spencer Ackerman. “Orlando gunman searched for Facebook reaction during Pulse nightclub attack”  The Guardian (6/16/2016).


Haiku with kigo:
how the exit wounds blossom.
American spring.


Sam Cha is from Korea. He earned an MFA at UMass Boston. A 2017 recipient of the St. Boltoph’s Club Emerging Artists Prize, his work has appeared in apt, Assay, Best New Poets 2016, Boston Review, DIAGRAM, Memorious, and Missouri Review. His chapbook, American Carnage, was published by Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs in 2018. His full-length collection of cross-genre work, The Yellow Book, was published by [PANK] Books in 2020. Sam lives and writes in Cambridge, MA.