After Connecticut school massacre, a poem

"They're fragile the little children--USA Sandy Hook--2012"

sunflower III

This boy was at a community sunflower garden project this summer, in Franklin Square in West Baltimore.

Photo by: Emily CD

For the right to bear arms they’ll die,
they hold aloft their weapons,
they cheer when they fire in ranges,
they thrill when they hit bull’s eye,
the noise– it reddens the sky.

The animals– they scurry and hide–
the children they huddle and cry–
the children in pieces they lie–
frangible glass on the ground.

The lonely ones are out and about–
enraged they are marginalized–
no devils these men who are sad–
no demons descended from afar–

All of them shriveled and shy,
bullied by the brittleness of life–
they cower in their caves and plot–
to avenge the bitterness wrought–
in their narrow tunnels –they run,
their anxieties bubble and froth–
in their brains the fever is hot–

When they are overwrought–
watch them reach for rifles-
unlocked and ready to be cocked–
the world recoils in shock–
when triggers are held down long–
as long as it takes to sever–
the tender and tenuous bonds–
of a whole mass of people torn–
and ejected on a river maroon–
stained by their hideous wounds–

The dead are too many to count–
meandering in search of solace–
snuffed out by absolute strangers
in movie theaters, museums and malls–
in schools–the safest of all places–
in a school–
how egregious that a shooter sought–
tiny children to blow apart.

They’re fragile–the little children,
please handle them with care–
cuddle them close in your arms–
when nightmares recur in their sleep–
and they’re fleeing from monstrous storms–
handle them with care–
such easy targets for harm–
from men looking to unleash–
the fury pent up in their hearts–

A fury that will blow them apart
unless it’s expelled–with shots–
from the barrel ends of guns–
the bullets barrel and whistle past–
fast as missiles in space–
the bullets emanate–
through the barrel ends of guns–
men have learned to communicate–

There are wars afoot in the land–
in the imaginations of men–
terror lays its cunning traps–
fear enervates and saps–
the energy– is drained from the land–
when weapons are a source of comfort–
when weapons are a source of pride–
when weapons are as cherished as life–
often even more than life–
energy is drained from the land–

It’s a child gone wild with a gun–
it’s a woman asserting her power–
it’s a man showing off his glock–
it’s another ordering up a mountain
of ammunition on line–

It’s a lucrative business–death–
its merchants are everywhere–
purveyors of poisons galore–
prosper on the hate of the land–

We’re not afraid of the wolves–
the lions too are no threats–
the panthers, the tigers,
the cheetahs,
and the snakes that can kill us with their fangs–
we don’t fear them as much as we fear–
one of our own kind–

Other humans are whom we fear–
mirror images of our own selves,
they’re the ones who can render us inert–
faster than the sharks in the sea–
surer than the mighty grizzly–

So we arm ourselves to the teeth–
we’ll kill before we are killed–
we’ll kill one to save many–we claim–
we’ll get the bad guys–
since we’re good–
we’ll stand our ground and we’ll shoot–
and demolish men who wear hoods–

“If the lawful are not armed, then the lawless
will overrun the land–
if the lawful are not strong–
they’ll be crushed by a dictator’s hand–
give every teacher a gun–
goad students to keep them in dorms–
conceal, carry and swagger–
if you no more feel like a man–
a gun my friend is more potent–
than decency for the morale–
if you take away guns,
you think men won’t kill anymore?
they will kill with knives and with hands–
with ropes and with automobiles–
they will carry on–
their killing sprees– all over the land!”

Spurious arguments abound!
The air reverberates with their sound–

Without firing a single shot
and Martin Luther King–
made their points–
fought their battles-
and won their wars–
but their non violence
answered with violence–
by guns their lives were cut short.

Those who’ll die
for their right to bear arms–I guess they will declare,
that Gandhi and King were fools,
they should have concealed
and carried the tools
indispensable for staying alive.

Their exhortation
fills the air,
that our freedom to bear arms is dear.

But what freedom do they speak of–these men?
The freedom to purchase rifles
that can fire countless rounds–
of bullets and pump them into tissues–
to fragment folks to shards?

It is tragic we argue this way,
it is tragic we go nowhere,
when the candle lit vigils are over,
when the sermons have been given,
and bodies buried,
it is tragic we’ll be resigned to the murders–
as a price we must pay to be armed.

When it’s all been said and done–
they’re fragile–the little children,
please handle them with care,
cuddle them close in your arms–
they are easy targets for harm.

- Usha Nellore

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