Another day, another active shooting on a school campus. What are you going to do?

high angle photo of person wearing shoes

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

Picture it. Really put yourself there. Stand there on that high school campus in the misty cool November morning. You’re a kid. You didn’t want to go to school but you dragged yourself out of bed. Maybe you had to get there early to take a test you missed last week or to work on plans for the next school dance or maybe you had a club meeting.

Whatever. You’re there. You’re standing on the quad at your high school, maybe talking to a friend. What are you going to do this weekend? Gotta work. But maybe catch a movie after? You’re sixteen and you have your license now. The whole world has opened up to you.

You hear a pop and in the cool fall morning under the open sky, it doesn’t feel important at first. And then you see the small red dot between your friend’s eyes and you feel the warm spray of her blood and nothing is really real except the next pop seconds later and the sting in your shoulder as you spin and fall on the prickly grass.

From there, you try to decide. Lie still, play dead or get up and run while you still can. Another pop and then two more. That’s five. If the movies are right, you get six. But the last one seems to take a while longer. You roll over and look. He’s standing less than twenty feet from you, but the gun is pointed at his own head, not you. You wonder if it’ll work. You’ve heard it’s hard to actually kill yourself that way. You’ve heard of people doing it, losing part of their brain, living the life of a vegetable, or, possibly worse, being horribly deformed for the rest of their lives.

You see his eyes, the hollow, hopeless look there, and you desperately hope that this time it will work.

And the last pop comes and he falls and it’s over. You lay back and tears seep from your eyes as you remember the red dot between your friend’s eyes. It bothers you that you don’t remember her falling, just standing there. Like she’s still standing there above you and not lying on the ground next to you with the back of her head blown out. Who else was shot? They aren’t all dead because you can hear them crying, too. You hear someone retching, coughing. Blood and vomit and tears soak the grass.

And so it happens again. Two lives lost, four more wounded in the time it takes to walk across a room. All because someone had a gun who shouldn’t have had a gun.

Raise your hand if you’ve been in an active shooting situation.

Raise your hand if you know someone who has been in an active shooting situation.

Raise your hand if you’re pretty certain you will soon.

By this point, all hands should be raised.

not my child, a poem for yesterday’s lost

IMG_1763not my child
by michelle garren flye
not my child
screaming
crying
pleading
helpless
not my child
hiding
praying
cursing
alone
not my child
listening
waiting
hurting
lost
not my child
this time

“But”: A Poem for Independence

Happy birthday, America. You’re 241 years old. Congratulations.

You’re still an infant on the world stage. An infant with a very big gun, but an infant still.

Maybe that’s why we’ve allowed you to get to this state. Mass deportations, guns in every pocket, a tyrannical toddler in charge, squabbling lawmakers unwilling to compromise, and worst of all, your beautiful land pockmarked and disfigured, air polluted and waters spoiled by avarice.

But.

But you’re a lovely idea, a perfect ideal to work toward. We’ve only taken a moment to tend to our worst selves. We’ll get back to the job eventually. We’ll return to the original intent of our forefathers. I believe that.

And I love you.

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” — James Baldwin

But

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Lady Liberty holds a tablet and a torch—

The law of freedom, the light of hope.

 

But what does it mean when guns fill the street?

When drugs are offered but food is not?

Fear is the only law. There is no defense.

 

What happened to our freedom?

 

Some fight still for their most basic rights,

But the Bible of an intolerant God quashes them.

Your love is wrong. Your life is less.

 

Where is the light of hope?

 

It shines still, cutting a swath through darkness.

Land of plenty, home of brave, promises made—

 

But will they be honored?