Happen to Be – Poem 2/15/18

**Please see the passage after the poem for more information.

Title: Happen to Be

I happen to be from the school that’s been on the news

if many come to mind, you pick, you choose.

A school with its misfits, scholars, a gym, maybe a pool,

with girls who giggle, and boys who want to look cool.

It started out like any other day

I got dressed, grabbed my bag, then off and away.

I wondered what Alisha would say.

I asked her to go to the dance with me, yesterday.

 

I’m in class at the end of the hall

English happens within these four walls

then suddenly I hear it; gunshots, shouts, calls,

outside of the door, a bloody classmate falls.

The teacher huddles us behind our desks

and we hold each other, no longer worried about tests.

We hear screaming and shooting, the whole place of unrest.

I clutch at myself to feel my heart beating in my chest.

Someone sees, out of the window, the SWAT team is here

but that does little to quell our fears

because bullets flying is all we can hear,

and all around me, I watch silent tears.

Someone tries the classroom door

and we all pray, quietly crouched to the floor

the voice on the other side says, “It’s the police, we’re opening the door;”

that’s when our relieved hearts soar.

They escort us out amongst the gore,

our hands in the air and different from before.

That’s when I see her lying there.

Alisha with blood from her head trailed into her hair,

her green eyes, wide open, with nothing there.

All I can do is stop and stare,

thinking of the dance we could have shared.

 

My life will never be the same

and the left and the right will find someone to blame

and the shooter will be arrested or put a bullet in his own brain

and history continues, eerily the same.

If we do nothing, we should be ashamed.

I hope, by the time I have kids, things will have changed.

 

First, I should make clear that I was not present at this recent school shooting in Florida. I wrote this from the perspective of a child that could have been. A child. A student. A person. A beating heart. I have a child, and the thought that I could send him to school one day and not get him back is one that has me weeping for the parents whose children are now gone or seriously hurt.

Our knee-jerk reaction is to blame. Blame policy, blame guns, blame people, blame parents, blame God. All that blame leads to a lot of people shouting angrily, in offense or defense, with little of them willing to listen. So we scream, and we ignore until it’s out of our systems.

And then we forget.

We proceed as usual and look on at the memory of body counts and incidences rising higher and higher as just a sad memory. We leave those personally affected to continue to fight for a change, and the rest of us move on.

We need to take a serious look at what our future holds and what we want it to look like.

We are the most prominent threat to our extinction.

Today, as with any day, please proceed with love.

 

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