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this is gun violence

by W. Z. (11)

there it was, the spot.

a small face of marble,

she was smiling.


there were flowers at first,

they died before she did

but they weren’t bleeding out


the plaque finally came

a life cut short

was now immortal.


this is gun violence.


a school in massachusetts, a mall in arizona, a mosque in minnesota

the location matters not

death can go anywhere after racking up all those frequent flyer miles


a religious fanatic, a troubled teenager, a vengeful husband

the perpetrator matters not

death is all for equal opportunity


a cheerful first-grader, a promising teen, a selfless father

the victims matter not

death makes no distinction under those pearly white sheets


it doesn’t judge, it’s totally fair

like the bullet, it simply doesn’t care

it listens for the final rattle, the last gasp,

bringing the lucky victim into its grasp


this is gun violence.


after muzzles cool and screams cease by selfish steel,

after frantic calls and grieving relatives faint and fall,

after teary parents and fiery pundits demand something be done,




the press vans drive out of the parking lot,

the pundits go back to their normal news cycle,

the politicians run back into the pockets of their lobbyists,

all is well again.


this is gun violence.


mom told me that we’d arrived in a land of liberty, of freedom, of hope

that the streets were safe, that the future was bright

but each scream, each casket, each motherly wail,

blows out yet another light


miss jones taught me that the stars and stripes are forever

that the allegiance we pledge was for our beloved human rights

but each body bag, each day of national mourning

shows how the right to live has lost yet another fight


my coach taught me that practice makes perfect

that perseverance trumps talent and might

but each time another set of faces plasters People

i wonder if basic reason is still somewhere in sight


this is gun violence.


let it be, they say

it’s just how it is

the constitution is sacred

please stay out of its way


but as i look back at that plaque

at the frozen smile

i cannot help but think

why at all listen to what you say?


no, let things change

fueled by the hope in pain

one less grieving parent, friend, nation

is what you will gain


let there be no more plaques,

no more somber press conferences!

let there be real action, a movement never yet seen,

the pen is mightier than the AR-15!


this is for the students, the kids in massachusetts

this is for the mall-goers, the christmas shoppers in arizona

this is for the devout, the faithful in minnesota

this is for a brighter future, a new morning in america


this is up to you.

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