ROAR

By Lily Connolly

I see the students of my generation frazzled by fears of being shot in classrooms,
+++++++++marching through urban streets during third period, writing funeral scripts
+++++++++at lunchtime,

Life-centered minors laying their friends to rest between political rallies and soccer practice,

Feverish futurists trying to rewrite ancient scripture to prevent radioactive equipment
+++++++++from taking out the daylight,

Who show up early on the first day of school with transparent backpacks to choose
+++++++++a seat away from the windows and doorways,

Who practice walking in a straight line with their hands on top of their heads
+++++++++during math class to assemble under floodlights only to hear the principal
+++++++++on the other side of the walky-talky announce the drill is now finished,

Who go the mall after the drill to buy new Skechers without pink sparkling lights
+++++++++because their teacher said the killer might be able to find you with those shoes,

Who stomp amongst angry streets to explode optimistic kindly-angered words
+++++++++outside a politician’s silent mansion,

Who dismantle musty storms with a sun-drop of handwritten letters to senators,
+++++++++filling in the empty white spaces with tipsy red hearts that are never seen,

Who stand in front of their puffy-painted mirrors to recite eulogies and practice
+++++++++singing church hymns that our leaders said will solace the families,

Who instead chant stories of equality, liberty and fairness to legislators who have
+++++++++once again failed to protect the children,

Who spend recess wailing over the last words of their best friend, thinking about how
+++++++++Carmen used to have a perfect winged eyeliner and add a truckload of
+++++++++sugar to her coffee,

Who spend their empty-eyed sleepovers pacing the basement, roaring about a future
+++++++++that involves drastic change,

Who are malnourished by notices for breaking dress code rules, never seeing advertisements
+++++++++for where to seek help during depression, hearing more debates about ovaries
+++++++++than gun control,

Who use crayons to make signs to bring to rose-garden protests, shifting dreams
+++++++++away from graduation to haunting memories of passing notes with the killer
+++++++++in third period.

Another mother’s heart races when the school calls, another problematic child
+++++++++doesn’t get the help that he needs, and another and another and another and another
+++++++++little sister doesn’t come home from school,

We are simultaneously the ones in the coffin and the ones putting children there!
+++++++++Buying black dresses! Singing the hymns! Writing to senators! I hear
+++++++++the students of today beginning to roar!

About the Author

Lily Connolly is a second-year writing student at the University of Tampa. She is a poet and essayist who has work published in Neon and InscapeShe recently won the 2019 Florida Collegiate Honors Conference poetry contest.

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