Adapted Semanteme Submission By Lily Roth

My mother has a texting language all her own.

Between abbreviations of abbreviations and sometimes entire sentences crafted out of punctuation,

It has taken me awhile to master… the letter “Y” actually means “yes,” … which can sometimes get confusing

The term “lot of veg” means; eat your vegetables! Make good choices!

And “THONGS. ARE. TERRIBLE… CLEAN!!!!!!” with 6 exclamations, translates roughly to: I hope to GOD you’re not with a boy right now but if you are, please be careful!


… And when she writes “XO”   – this is how she says… I love you.


… She doesn’t say it out loud


My mother has a texting language all her own, and when she asks, “U fine?” – This means that somewhere, very recently,


there was another bullet stop ending

There was another trigger parade,

Another ring of cases, day on fire, I went up to these blurry eyed notifications

These 5 letters coming into focus to let me know that somewhere

Very recently

People are gone.


The text tone vibration is as loud as the gunshot

Her hands on a keyboard, as theirs slip off the trigger


Very recently…


Virginia tech  — a campus  U fine?

Seattle  — the racer cafe      U fine?

Sandy Hook  — a classroom  U fine?

Chardon —   a high school     U fine?

Orlando  — a nightclub          U fine?

San Bernardino  — an elementary school,   U fine?

Parkland Florida — 17 gone,      U fine?

Marysville, Pilchuck, Backyard, next door, horror story,


I am counting on my hands but running out of fingers to type back to her that YES,

I am fine,

But the message can’t travel faster than the thought through her mind,

her mind

that it could’ve been me.

It could’ve been,



A handgun hides in a pocket as easily as a cell phone and

It costs the same amount of money to open a Verizon phone plan as it does to obtain a carry permit, Mama,


I know you speak simply because often you are left speechless.

As the smoke from the barrel paints another goodbye sky

And more people deleted like it’s a simple thing

… Like a text message


And you’re left with only your hands

Waiting for a light up screen to tell you your children are fine and I want to tell you that

I, am, fine

I am fine.

And even though

I know

I’ll only get that single XO in reply

I want to text you

I want to TELL YOU …

… I love you.

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