Poetry Friday – On Gun Violence

Thank you, Karen Edmisten, for hosting Poetry Friday today and so glad you are here celebrating journals, life, and poetry month today.

This month I am digging through magnetic words with Laura Salas and others. We are making tiny poems. Yesterday, when I saw the words fear and arm in the upper left hand corner, I knew I had to write about guns.

The titles needed to be north, south, east, west or directions. While these titles didn’t really fit, I figured West was most appropriate. Historically, we’ve acted as if the west is more civilized–[read white supremacy]–but we are proving yet again this is not the case. Here is what I wrote yesterday for Laura’s challenge:

Don’t Go West
mind crush
armed up
for delirious fear

Then yesterday and today at #Verselove, I couldn’t write about anything else. Here is a Fibonacci poem inspired by some of the words above.

On Being Armed in America
crush life
with fear of losing–
Don’t drive. Don’t ring. And don’t mistake.
Don’t be six, and retrieve your ball from next door.

On Thursday morning, I heard Anand Giridharadas speak on “anonymous trust.” He also wrote a beautiful and haunting article called, “Kaylin, Ralph, and the death of anonymous trust.” After reading it, I wrote a septercet sonnet:

Anonymous Trust Cracking
Kaylin and friends are driving
by mistake to the wrong place
without a word, she’s shot dead
Ralph’s out to pick up brothers
by mistake he rings the wrong
door–no hearing why–just shot
the great accomplishment of
modern societies is
anonymous trust. But now
America’s is cracking.
We are reverting to past:
moated castles need defense.
Democracy requires
a bit of faith in others

17 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – On Gun Violence

  1. Thank you, Dennis, for modeling how to process our sorrow and feelings of helplessness about these recent tragedies and what they mean for society. Your fib is the spot on truth about the “fear of losing”.

  2. What a world we are living in! I hope people decide they don’t want mistakes to be deadly and to always be afraid. Change is possible.

  3. That “delirious fear” is not part of what I even understand, Denise. You’ve shown the tragic thoughts that need addressing but the ‘why now?’ is disturbing every day. Thanks for both poems highlighting our plight.

  4. Denise, you got such a powerful poem from that prompt. Brava. “Don’t be six” makes me tear up.

    I’m continuing on my haiku a day for NPM, which has been fun.

  5. These are heart wrenching, especially the Las, about anonymous trust. It’s tragic and I wonder how far it is till rock bottom and maybe change.

  6. Your last two poems have been so helpful — it’s amazing how hard it is to find words for these things, but I’ve been writing emotional poetry all week. Thank you for your poetry, especially the last two. Delirious with fear of losing — dear God, that’s a disease. And democracy DOES require faith. Thank you for all the links; I’ll return to this post, I”m sure.

  7. Denise, thank you for sharing these. It means a lot to read your words.

  8. I’d never heard of anonymous trust before, and now I can’t stop thinking about this concept. This week’s news was heartbreaking, infuriating. The simple, unsafe tasks you list in your Fibonacci poem struck a nerve for me.

  9. Thank you for putting words on these things that are weigh very heavily on my (and so many people’s) hearts as we ask ourselves what we can do. The idea of reverting to the past and the sense of separation in the image of a castle with a moat are powerful.

  10. Wow, Denise. Your post sent me down a rabbithole of articles. Your “Being Armed in America” is really powerful. And thank you especially for that link about anonymous trust. It does indeed seem America is un-developing. Thanks for using your poetry to inspire deep thought…

  11. I hate the truth of this poem…but I’m glad you wrote it. Amen and amen.

  12. That’s what writers do – they process their sorrow and try to make sense of things with words. Thank you for your powerful responses. Yes to “Democracy requires
    a bit of faith in others.”

  13. Thoughtful post, Denise – thank you for responding to the week’s madness with these poetic words. When I see Anand Giridharadas on TV, I always lean in to listen….

  14. Thanks for writing about this terrible, impossible subject.

  15. I feel like this country is losing its mind and I can barely process what is happening with guns. I’m so sick and tired of the gun violence and yet I know what I feel is only a fraction of the sorrow and grief of the victims’ families and loved ones. No one, no one, no one needs to own an automatic weapon, and when did we turn into a country of people who shoot first (children!) and ask questions later? It’s heart-wrenching.

    Thanks for writing about this vital issue.

  16. sigh… wouldn’t it be wonderful if poets never had to write about senseless gun deaths ever again?

Comments are closed.