“Boulder feels like a bubble. And the bubble burst.” — Ryan Borowski, Boulder mass shooting survivor

When I first arrived in Boulder
I remember heading to the Deeter’s
boarding house—that was
almost sixty years ago,
on the “hill” as it was called,
an eager student looking
forward to the future.
I saw the Flatirons for the first time
the welcome-to-the-Rocky-Mountains range;
being a boy from Illinois, the Prairie State,
the giants put me in my place,
a small presence within mother earth’s
landscape; I recollect
staring out from one of its peaks
looking down on the city
then much smaller, now grown
a consequence of its appeal to those
free-spirited, nature-loving,
gentle souls who chose to call it home.
I think back to my first winter there,
the thermometer showing in the teens
yet a sweater kept me warm,
the air so crisp the humidity so low;
I recall plodding through the snow gleaming
in beams of streetlights, my new
knee-high army-surplus canvas mukluks
serving the purpose the Inuit people intended;
heading back to my room from a coffeehouse
after listening to locals cover the tunes of
Odetta, Joan Baez, The Weavers,
that night serene and still—
the light of this day, filled with screams,
the shrill sound of cell phones,
ringing with no one to answer
among the dead.

About the Poem

Afterword: I lived in Boulder as a student in the early sixties. It was idyllic then. Now it will not be known so much for the lyrics in John Denver’s song, “I hear him hummin’
Some old song he wrote of love in Boulder Canyon I guess he’d rather be in Colorado” but instead as the place of yet another mass shooting in America.

About the Author

Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. His latest work Political (Cyberwit.net) is a nominee for the 2021 Eric Hoffer Awards. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming in later 2021 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory. howarddebs.com

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