America needs to wake the fuck up. We are the only country who has mass shootings so often that when it comes onto my newsfeed, my calloused heart has no more tears of sadness. Just rage. We are literally the only country who refuses to take a stand on gun control, racial profiling, anything else moderately difficult to swallow. The first time I wrote a poem about guns, I was angry and sad and hurting. I was shocked that a human could walk into an elementary school and kill children while our government hemmed and hawed and murmured, "What an awful tragedy this is. Let's try and change something about how people can procure weapons....Oh, no? No, we can't do that? Okay. Let's just wait until the next one. Maybe then it will be enough." (Obviously, I am paraphrasing. I realise that everyone was heartbroken. But, really, how many times can our hearts break before it stops beating?)
Then, after the shootings in South Carolina clearly, CLEARLY fueled by racism and could have been prevented if one person among many had stood up to this guy and said, "Hey, Dyl, maybe killing people isn't the best way to showcase your bigotry. It just seems a bit final, don't you think?" So, after that shooting, I wrote another poem a bit more caustic, tongue in cheek. Righteous anger didn't work, so maybe some levity to a too familiar topic might reach the people who need to hear it. But, since I am a small time soap box stander in Busan, South Korea, the probability of someone who can actually do something about it to hear and give a damn is very slim.
I don't have the answers. Well, I do have an answer. Maybe, talk to Australia about their gun regulations. Or, dismantle the insane presence of the NRA. Yes, we have the right to bear arms. But, we also have the right to walk into school without going through a metal detector first, or sit in a house of worship or a movie theatre without the fear that the guy next to me might think that this is the only way to achieve something. Basically, we need to find a way to make some real progress, NRA notithstanding. Because, this shit is not cutting it.
So, here are my poems. Like them, or don't like them. I don't really care. That's not true. I care a lot. But, hopefully they can reach someone who is in the position to do something about it.
When (Audio File Here)
When I was in university and
Thought of the kind of teacher I would
Be, I thought
Desk jumping Dead Poet’s Society
Akilah and the Bee
Life lessons from Feeny.
But, now I read newspapers with words like:
Shattered, Why? Agony, Why?, Massacre, Why? Senseless, Why? Unspeakable Why?
Why? Why? Why?
And, I think to myself, in the shadowed place where
private thoughts go to war,
hide behind the door?
Pin him to the floor?
Plead with him for more
Mercy (1) for your childhood
Bullies and break ups riddle your motives
It doesn’t get better, but it does get easier.
A cold shoulder doesn’t deserve a shotgun.
Breathe, son. Start penning poems ‘cuz
Ink stains less than blood
Mercy (2) for your masculinity
Man up does not mean you can’t hurt.
Man hood does not mean dominance.
Be a man does not mean show anger instead of sadness
We’ve indoctrinated you with antiquated ideals and we’re
surprised when you achieve them.
It’s okay to be weak.
A cry for help sounds braver than a bullet.
Mercy (3) for the lives you take
These children are
Brothers and sons
Sisters and daughters
They’re not numbers on a tally sheet
--though the name list grows longer—
Crossing t’s and dotting i’s,
You sign their names in their own blood.
You conclude your addition with your own
Mercy (4) suicide
You kill yourself because there’s no other way to deal with your pain, your hatred, your guilt.
And, what does that shot taste like?
Hope that is all goes away?
Faith that it fades into nothing?
Fear that it doesn’t?
Does it look like revenge?
Does it echo of your own cries?
Does it smell like peace?
Does it feel finished?
When will it be enough, America?
When children play “lockdown” like hide and go seek?
When teachers wield guns as easily as chalk?
When sad little boys squeeze triggers like teddy bears thinking, “Tomorrow will be
better. Tomorrow will be better.”
Or, is it when tomorrow never comes?
Unspeakable (Audio file Here)
Loner. Check. Well-liked. Check. Isolated. Check.
Don’t mind me; I’m just playing “White Shooter Media Coverage” BINGO.
Tragedy, oh, there’s another one.
There it is, the word on everyone’s tongue.
How can this happen? They say. It’s unthinkable.
Let’s just play a quick English vocab game: always, usually, sometimes, never.
White shooters are always troubled.
White shooters usually procure their weapons legally.
White shooters sometimes target their victims.
White shooters rarely apologise.
If that boy was any browner than wonderbread,
or the victims a little more WASPish--
this would be terrorism, and the nation would be readying their
tar and their feathers.
Speak the fuck up, America.
There is a tiny window of time between
mourning the deceased and not dwelling on the past.
It’s just enough to say, “Hey, wait a minute.”
Then, it’s gone.
Now is the time for prayer.
Now is the time for speech.
Now is the time for action.
Now is the time for all of that, because
Now is the fucking time.