twenty seconds - John Hulede

Trigger Warning:


May 11, 2019

in the middle of the night,

3 boys with 3 guns sought to unmake me

but chose to leave me whole.

GET ON THE GROUND they yell,

and my body falls like it’s no longer my own.

the gun which holds my fate the closest stares 3 inches from my chest.

it’s silver. the moon reflects off it so beautifully tonight.

this must be a noble death.

like normal moments, i think of family first.

close friends included.

the boys demand i tell them the passcode to my iphone

as if the guns give them no other choice.

they tell me to hand over my money.

i don’t have any on me, i reply. the boy holding the silver gun

doesn’t believe my honest answer. my wallet waits impatiently in the glove

compartment of my car, and i hope someone is praying for my return.

i swear on God as if no one else exists. they feel my pockets.

silver gun sees I am an honest man.

silver boy says boy you gonna make me kill you.

my body turns into a hollow vessel of every boy who vanished before me.

this poem feels familiar. i swear to God it does. i’ve reduced to redundancy.

i swear to God twice more. the bullets seem hungry for my blood.

i wrote about the fear of becoming a home for bullets

but tonight, i realize we may become what we fear the most.

they say wait here for 20 seconds and i comply.

they take the phone and do not return.

i spend the night in the police station.

they ask if I’m okay. i say i am whole.

my life, juggled over an iPhone in the night.

they ask for the best descriptions i can give of the boys

and i describe the guns better than them.

it’s 4:18 a.m. right now.

almost six hours have passed since i was nearly unmade.

my family is still whole.

friends too. my body feels like my own.

i know triggers will be made from tonight.

they will not be my unmaking either.

May 12, 2019.

it’s Mother’s Day.

like most Sundays,

my mother attends church with my sister today.

the pastor says Happy Mother’s Day

especially those with kids no longer living.

my mother cries. she thinks of me.


By: John C. Hulede

My name is John C. Hulede. I am the author of four poetry books: Becoming Man (2015), Introspection (2016), Three (2017), and My Therapist Is (2018). “My Therapist Is" is my first length poetry collection. Co-authored with my friend from college, Kara Granelli. I have a Bachelors in Marketing and am starting a Masters in Industrial Organizational psychology fall of 2019. I have a passion for sharing my story and others stories through the art of poetry.