by B. Fulton Jennes

October 25, 2022

Warning: this poem contains graphic images of gun violence and the names of children and adults shot and killed in the Sandy Hook, Uvalde, Columbine, and Stoneman Douglas mass shootings.

Because meat bleeds.

Because we all know guns aren’t toys.

Because the only difference between men and boys is the kill power of their toys.

Because there are places in the world where an AK-47 can be purchased for as little as $6. 

Because once a dog is blooded it will never stop killing.

Because flesh, our flesh, is meat.

Because there are a million more guns in the U.S. than there are people.

Because Sandy Hook mother Veronique Pozner saw to it that six-year-old Noah had an open-casket viewing, with only a soft cloth covering his blown-away jaw and a white stone placed where his left hand used to be.

Because the last school shooting was 57 days ago, no 53 days, no FUCKING YESTERDAY.

Because I don’t want to bleed.

Because children still watch Sesame Street and sleep with nightlights on.

Because children are meat.

Because one death is a tragedy but a million deaths are a statistic.

Because once the killing starts it will never stop.

Because once I start hating I will never stop.

Because I saw what Stevie Amadon’s toy .22 did to that woodchuck’s head when I was a six.

Because children bleed.

Because the Earth is bleeding.

Because there just aren’t enough Bandaids to go around.

Because students cry in my classroom during lock-down drills.

Because I have a baseball bat beside my classroom door to take out any asshole with an AR-15.

Because we can’t arm every teacher, pastor, rabbi, playground supervisor, Asian masseuse, unarmed Black driver, concertgoer, jogger, homeless person, and Latin-X fifth grader.

Because we might try.

Because Rachel Scott, the first victim Columbine, bled.

Because Amerie Jo Garza bled when she tried to call 911 from her Robb Elementary classroom.

Because teacher Scott Beigel opened his Parkland door to save students, and bled.

Because six-year-old Noah Pozner bled and bled and bled.

Because God is not a recruiter for the Army of God.

Because some say the world will end in fire, some in ice.

Because, either way, it will end in blood.

B. Fulton Jennes is Poet Laureate of Ridgefield, CT. Her poems have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies and her collection Blinded Birds (Finishing Line Press) received the 2022 International Book Award for a poetry chapbook. Jennes’ poem “Glyphs of a Gentle Going” was awarded the 2022 Lascaux Prize.

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