Newtown

by lizard

And weary and worn are our sad souls now
—Yeats

seven days until Solstice
could you hold us?
and could you please refrain
from billing us for
the damages?
to unwrap
the bandages
seven days before Solstice
is not advisable

the wound, a sizeable wound
needs a healing
unpeeling would probably
compromise

today’s immediacy
does not tomorrow’s poetry make

today’s Sandy Hook body count
mostly kindergartners
fucking five year old children
will be forgotten
quick as the pressure
of a finger on a trigger
over and over and over

please be wrong
please, this time, be different
be anything other than what you are:

another school massacre


  1. I can’t say anything about this tragedy that makes any sense of it, yet poetry lends a hand. thanks for this.

  2. d.g.

    Gone but not forgotten…the hearts of those parents will hold like chambers of the hallowed pomegranate the visceral memory of every red-seed-heart lost when a mind went wild in a too-crowded cage (once world) and made 12-14 a day that will live only for having died. Tomorrow’s poetry is the shell casing of people gone mad when mad. Bless the stars that are these children and let some futuristic forensic determine if we were fated to fail at this ephemeral gift called humanity or if all our good love, good energy, good children were doomed to be lost to good people who deny the wonder of the stars and seek only to bling the bridges of a distant mountain town.

  3. Leroy Duncan, an activist from Minnesota, spoke movingly of the 86 Americans who die of gun violence each day. “These people need heroes,” he said. “President Obama, you can be that hero.”

    Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/12/14/outside-the-white-house-gun-control-activists-make-a-subdued-call-to-action/#ixzz2F8XNUOmH

    If 86 is even close to an accurate number, is it possible to change our culture of violence? Can we also mourn for the loss of the other 60? How about the children of Gaza, or Pakistan? In 2012, does life matter more than death?

    Do nuclear weapons make us safer? Do $650 billion annual defense budgets make us safer? Where are our priorities, really?

    Perhaps it’s time to reflect.

  4. Turner

    Excellent poem. I’m amazed that you can write a poem this fast!

  5. lizard19

    I appreciate the replies, thank you.

  6. Matthew Koehler

    Yes, excellent poem Liz. Friend Jeff Gibbs – co-producer and composer for “Bowling for Columbine” – had this to say about the most recent school shooting tragedy…the 18th (!!) since Columbine:

    “A world full of guns and empty of mental health care is, well, the hell we are living in. Violence is down? HAHAHA! Almost a thousand times more American’s kill each other with guns than in other “civilized” nations. Time to grow up and stand up to the egoistic gun nuts. No one wants your guns, you’re not that important. It’s just that the rest of us don’t want to live in a world in which blow-hard egoists carry guns to the mall, schools and sporting events. You stand almost zero chance of using that gun to stop violence. Far greater is the chance someone will use your gun to do terrible things in your own family. We don’t want to live in a world in which your children take your guns and commit suicide, kill a family member, or massacre people which is exactly what happened yesterday and at Columbine. If you enjoy the gun toting lifestyle, move to Somalia, Juarez or join the Taliban. Or rent an island to play-pretend you live in the wild wild west with your buddies while the adults come up with some sensible laws here in what’s left of America.”

    • ” Almost a thousand times more American’s kill each other with guns than in other “civilized” nations.”

      Worthless statistic. A person who is fatally shot in the US is no more dead than a person who is stabbed to death in Cuba. Focusing on levels of gun violence only opens you up to the inevitable response that people will just stab on another if they can’t shoot each other.

      Actual homicide rates are a different story – the US has a murder rate about twice that of Finland, about four times that of France, which is of course a more than significant difference. However, the biggest difference is perhaps geographical: the US has a murder rate well in the lower range for our hemisphere – just below Cuba. Canada is more like Europe in this regard, but every other nation in the hemisphere has a rate closer to the US than to France, irrespective of gun laws or gun ownership. There is something amiss hemisphere-wide, and we’d do well to look at what could be the common thread. I agree that mental health issues are part of it, but I think there’s more to it than that, and certainly more to it than guns.

      • Steve W

        PW; How many multiple murders are carried out on average each year by lone knifemen with knives, as compared to how many multiple murders are carried out by lone gunmen with guns?

        How many suicides a year are done with knives as compared with guns?

        If you want to compare deaths between guns and knives it seems you might ask some more questions.

        Or maybe that wasn’t what your agenda was?

        By the way, where are your meaningful statistics coming from? Got a link?

        • Multiple murders are terrible, of course, but they are a very small portion of overall murders, and they happen throughout the world, even in countries with very restrictive gun laws. On a per-population basis, Norway, Finland, and Britain have had more trouble with mass shootings than have the US. And mass killings with knives are possible, as China has shown us, as well as killings with arrows, spears, tractors, etc. More importantly, twenty people dying in one day are no more dead than one person dying each day for twenty days, which is why I focus on overall murder rates. The link for those, by the way, is here; there’s an external link if you don’t trust Wikipedia, but it opens an Excel spreadsheet.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate#cite_note-7

          As to suicide – It’s true that using a firearm makes an attempted suicide much less survivable. However, again, overall suicide rates in the US are no higher than countries with very low gun ownership rates – right about the level of the Nordic countries. That chart here –

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

          And this will take a little bit of cross referencing on your part, but here’s the list of countries by gun ownership.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country

          None of the charts are perfect, of course, but neither are they so flawed as to disguise a correlation, if one existed, between suicide rate and gun ownership, or between homicide rate and gun ownership in the Western Hemisphere.

          • Steve W

            I think your reading skills aren’t up to par, PW. I asked you how many mass murders are carried out each year by lone knifemen as compared to mass murders carried out each year by lone gunmen?

            I didn’t hear about the lone knifeman in China who committed mass murders. I also haven’t heard about the lone archers who commited mass murder that you reference, or the lone tractor driver who committed mass murder.

            Please fill me in on the lone knifemen committing mass murder. Why don’t we read about them in the paper, or hear their relatives speaking about them on TV? Why are the families of their victims so silent?

            Who was the last lone knife man to assassinate a President, a politician, or a civil rights leader?

            Please, just some names, dates and times. Is that too much to ask?

            • Alright, Steve, I’ll answer your question, and then I’ll explain why its the wrong question to ask.

              First, I’m not denying that a gun is the far better tool for committing mass murder, or any murder, really. However, it is possible to kill 17 people with a tractor,

              http://www.ovguide.com/2010-hebei-tractor-rampage-9202a8c04000641f80000000174f0de1

              It’s also quite possible to kill many children with a knife

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osaka_school_massacre

              Twenty children were killed with knives in 2010 in China, in several incidents. But you certainly have one point correct: a gun is usually the better weapon for killing a lot of people and getting into the news.

              But one of your sentences is particularly telling:

              ” Why don’t we read about them in the paper, or hear their relatives speaking about them on TV?”

              Simply because a death doesn’t make the news doesn’t make it less fatal. Why are you focusing on the deaths that gain attention in the national news? As a country, our priority should be to bring down the rate of homicides, regardless of what weapon they are committed with. Americans being a thousand times more likely to shoot one another than other countries (granted, a statistic with no source to back it up) is not nearly as bad as Americans being two or three times as likely to kill one another, by any means.

              Let me put it another way – Americans are also much more likely than, say, Japanese to shoot themselves. But that does not mean we have a suicide problem compared to Japan. The number of lives lost is far more important than the tools used to take them.

              • Big Swede

                The worst school mass murder in US history wasn’t a shooting.

                http://wolffiles.blogspot.com/2012/12/worst-school-massacre-in-us-history-not.html

              • Steve W

                PW, I think you should blog about murder and why the issue of mass murder school killings isn’t about guns, but is instead about mortality rates between the US and Japan over at Intelligent Discontent. Perhaps Pogie could put in a pitch for armed teachers shooting the weapons out of the bad guy’s hands? Or better yet he could talk about Japanese teaching precepts relationship to school violence.

                Simple technology could be required in firearms to make them user specific and thus far more secure. Clip sizes could be regulated. The gun-show craig’s list grey market could be regulated like the rest of the firearms market so that buyers aren’t people with long criminal nor psychotic pasts.

                Of course that would require talking about guns, right PW? And as you say, guns are the wrong question for yourself. You can’t and won’t ask yourself the questions, so how would you possibly arrive at the answer? It’s just not your problem. i get it.

              • Where did I say not to talk about guns? I simply said that comparing gun crime in the US to gun crime in other countries is not helpful, whereas comparing homicide rates is. You will still rate. Also interesting that the post I originally responded to apparently did not consider Brazil or Venezuela ‘civilized’ nations, as despite lower rates of gun ownership, they have far more gun deaths.

                I honestly think that your ideas are generally wise – in a perfect word, guns would not function except for for their owners. Extended clips could be regulated, though as Ken Kailey would point out that would take years to have any effect, as millions would still exist. And the gun show loophole is largely unneeded when all it takes is a smartphone to immediately check if someone is a violent offender. However, you have more trouble background checking for people with mental illness because that information is generally confidential.

                However, there’s two major problems with using mass shootings as an impetus for implementing gun control. First off, there’s no reason to believe that these are the sorts of crimes we can stop with gun control, and you’re fixing to be disappointed when, after all your methods, you still experience mass killings. Norway, the UK, and Germany all have exceedingly strict gun controls and frequently admired , and yet they all also suffer from mass shootings.

                Secondly, you’ll be misplacing your efforts. The vast majority of people who are murdered in the US don’t die in media catching incidents, but in everyday murders. Restricting assault weapons may (MAY) lower the incidence or lethality of mass attacks like this one, but the vast majority of deaths come from handguns. And, and this is the reason I bring up Venezuela and Brazil, gun violence does not necessarily fall with gun ownership. If you really want to bring our murder rates, you’re going to have to figure out why every country in the Americas has such a high murder rate compared to Asia or Western Europe.

  7. pronghorn

    My spouse said to me, “I wonder how long it will take for someone to suggest that it wouldn’t have happened if the kids had been armed.” I couldn’t resist–went looking for an NRA forum. Found it right away, first comment: Would this tragedy have happened if the children had been armed? Second comment: Get ready for gun prices to go up. Third comment was a forum moderator pulling the plug on the thread.

    So many people–commentators, what not–danced around the gun issue in discussing the tragedy; I pinned my hopes on blunt and insightful Mark Shields, commentator on the PBS Newshour. He didn’t let me down. A full transcript of his comments (or the video) is here. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec12/politicalwrap_12-14.html

  8. Big Swede

    Author unknown.

    Death came marching and on its heels
    Came the vulture press

    The blood was still in flow and warm
    They photographed the mess

    Before the parents were alarmed
    They’d filed a thousand stories

    This day of horror for us all
    They see their greatest glory

  9. JC

    All this parsing of murders misses the point. If you want to talk about the largest single mass murders in the history of the world, look no further than Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

    With those two incidents, the United States set a new standard by which its people measure murder.

    Is it any wonder that we have a national problem, when it is ok for our country to drop nuclear bombs on innocent children and murder them in the name of ending a war?

    Our populace has endured generations of witnessing the use of lethal force to build, maintain and enforce empire. We are witnessing the same mentality with our government subjecting its citizens to excessive force and punishment.

    And people are surprised when U.S. citizens act out in crazy ways? You want to solve the problems of mass murders, lets start with the examples we allow our politicians to perpetrate on the rest of the world, and on our own citizens.

    In short, we have a culture of violence. Fiddling with it around the fringes with weapons laws, crime punishment, or improper mental health treatment (more pills for crazies…) just ignores the root of our problem.

    Nothing less than radical political, social, cultural evolution will change anything in any significant way. And the Big Swedes of the world will just retreat into their 19th century wild west fantasy of every man for himself, complete with vigilantism and anarchy.

    • I think in many ways you are right – we have a culture of violence, and the maintenance of Empire requires that we maintain a culture of violence. Unfortunately, I don’t know how you change that once its engrained. Plenty of countries that don’t have any Empires to maintain – Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa – have much higher murder rates than the US. I don’t know if you trace that to histories of inequality and state violence, or what, but it’s clearly not only our foreign policy that is contributing to that violence, though I agree that our aggressive foreign policy certainly benefits from having a population largely accepting of violence.




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