Poem for 28 of 6,673 (and counting)

by Sheila Path McMahon


From 2000 miles away

my heart was ripped out

and stomped on

27 times.

No – 28.

Because of what

some would call an evil act

an act of dismay, disrespect

and disconnect

But I don’t believe in evil,

so then what’s left?

It feels profoundly empty to talk about gun control

with 300 million guns already loose in our country,

and to speak of mental illness

as though there was some easy answer

for the dismay that so many seem to feel.

It’s not enough to call it murder.

Cold blooded gunning down.

We witness by saying,

“They’re not evil, but there are evil acts”

They’re not monsters, they’re human.

Massacring, marauding humans

that the rest of us can call sick bastards –

cowardly losers, taking their own lives instead of

facing the music –

the punishment that seemingly normal people,

my peace loving friends,

say they would visit upon them if they could.

“If he killed my child, no one could stop me from killing him back.”

An eye for an eye, still 3,000 years after those words were written down –

our progress: miniscule.

And one of my former students is on the

MN most wanted fugitive list for stabbing somebody with a knife.

When I get accused of using mind control,

of trying to guide in a direction that isn’t sick and twisted,

I get push back, told I’m a hypocrite, told I expect too much.

“It isn’t going to be Freedom Writers here every day.”

Maybe not every day, but how about today,

because my heart is still tender from being torn out and stomped on 27 times.

No – 28.

Because as frustrated and sickened as I am,

I can’t write off another human being as monster.

which makes me feel that if I’m like them,

then I’m some part monster, too.

And I don’t know what to do with that fact,

except to nurse my heart and teach my students better.

Note on title:  I wrote this poem 12/17/12.  I didn’t type it until 7/29/13.  I was trying to find out how many people have died from gun violence since then, and this source seemed best:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

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