A Moral Failure; poems by Michael Dickel and Jamie Dedes written in the aftermath of shootings; protests and resources
“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his speech, A Proper Sense of Priorities, February 6, 1968, Washington, D.C.
When we speak or write about gun control, the fingers point to second amendment rights, to the suggestion that a complex problem may resolve with the application of one strategy, or to the NRA position and lobby. Democracy is messy, but safety and citizen rights are the concerns rational people hold in common.
No matter the side on which we stand, we are guilty of a moral failure. Gun control is not going to be the entire answer. It’s a beginning and as the U.K., Australia, Japan and Germany have proven it’s a huge and rewarding beginning. I think that most who advocate gun control understand that the issues of violence in America are complex. Not the least of other initiatives would be mental health interventions, mitigating poverty and youth unemployment, creating more educational opportunities and subsidizing arts programs, revisioning our materialistic values, fostering the reimagination of masculinity, and honoring our stated religious convictions. Many of us understand gun ownership as the gateway drug to violence and murder, a contradiction to those convictions. The U.S. is predominantly a country of the Abrahamic traditions and the law we share: “Thou shalt not kill.”
– Jamie Dedes
A Priest’s Lament
Starting from the outside,
the labyrinth’s path moves closer,
further, closer, as it takes a poet
deviously toward the center.
Mosaic patterns, partly broken
by frost, perpetually bloom there.
Gray, mossed-stones line the path—
they frame the wanderer’s flower.
We wandered that desert
for forty years. All we had
for communication were
specially designed tents
built from detailed plans—
each folding floorboard
and floating nail exact—
a cellular plan from God.
That lonely God longed for
our calls, the return of a gift
we could not understand.
We just turned on each other
instead. We hoarded words
into locked arks as though
we owned them or understood
what they meant. We didn’t.
We meant to know more. Ever since,
with poor reception, a limited data plan,
we still pretend we can call God
whenever we want. We pray
for every child shot in school
as though words could unlock
such cruelty. We pray that we
will not long be held responsible.
I long for the days before
those instructions were given,
before we built the tabernacle,
before we transformed the tent
to stone on top of a mountain,
before we thought we knew
what God wanted us to do,
before we decided we were priests.
Poem of separation (kodesh)
A wandering God longs for us
from outside a forty-year labyrinth,
folding time, returning space, locked
into receiving words that cannot be given.
We thought we knew.
On the seventh day, God rested.
We have not seen or heard
Creation since. Our language
overwhelms the world.
We thought we knew.
© 2018, poem, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play), All rights reserved (Written during the 100,000 Poets for Change 2018 Lake Jackson Poetry Residency Program)
February 23, 2018 — 7:00 pm
A note from Michael:
Stoneman High School students who survived the shooting are resisting. If you haven’t yet, see the widely shared video of one articulate student “calling” BS the excuses and people refusing to ban assault weapons through her tears. Facebook Page: March for Our Lives
and were laid to rest in her
sterile room on steel tables
lined-up like school children
counting wounds, counting dead
which the death-dealing injury
innocent life forms wept
in the stillness between breaths
she boxed and stored her tears
making way for scalpel and saw
to keep her heart locked-down
until . . . until
© 2018, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
POETS AND OTHERS STAND AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE
At this writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive in 2018 there have been 6,975 incidents, 1,922 deaths, 3,330 injuries, 71 children killed or injured, 377 teens killed or injured, 32 mass shootings, 41 officers shot or killed, 312 subject or suspect killed, 235 home invasions, 192 defensive use of guns, and 229 unintentional shootings in the United States.
A World With Peace: A Place to Lament and Resist Gun Violence
100,000 Poets for Change Co-founder, Michael Rothenberg and The BeZine team member, Michael Dickel, have initiated a day for poets to gather wherever they are in the world to resist violence, especially gun violence, and raise awareness of the need for appropriate gun legislation in the United States and elsewhere. Beguine Again founder and another member of The BeZine core team, Terri Stewart, Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do founder Evelyn Agusto and I support the effort and encourage you to organize events. To publicise your events post your event on the 100,000 Poets for Change Facebook Communication Page and on The BeZine 100TPC Facebook Discussion Page. I’ll do my best to catch all and post them to The Poet by Day Facebook Page and The Bardo Group Beguines (publisher of The BeZine) Facebook Page. Post to Evelyn’s Facebook Page as well. March 21 is also World Poetry Day.
Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.
Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.
Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.
We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.
Join us in saying #ENOUGH!
Add your event to the map or find one near you here: https://www.actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/enough-national-school-walkout
THE RESISTANCE POETRY WALL
A reminder about this. I just noticed no one’s posted since October 2017. Go for it. Have your say.
The RESISTANCE POETRY WALL “We want your poems! Share this information.”
A MESSAGE FROM 100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.
“The RESISTANCE POETRY WALL has been opened in response to the call by many for an open place to post poetry about the recent USA elections. Poets from around the world are invited to post. Feel free to share this link. Post your poems in the comment box at the bottom of the page. Your poem will appear on the WALL in approximately 1 hour.”
“Se ha abierto el MURO DE POESÍA EN RESISTENCIA como respuesta al reclamo de muchos por un espacio abierto donde publicar poesía relacionada con las recientes elecciones en los Estados Unidos. Se invita a poetas de todo el mundo a publicar aquí. Por favor compartan esta liga. Entren a la página y peguen sus poemas en la caja de comentario (‘comment’), al calce. Su poema apareceré en el MURO en aproximadamente 1 hora.”
“The poetry and art posted on the WALL are not limited to the USA elections. There are many issues that concern us all and we welcome your contribution.”
I AM NOT A SILENT POET
UK POET, REUBEN WOOLLEY hosts a zine, I Am Not a Silent Poet, and a Facebook Discussion Page. You may post to the later and submit to the zine. There are already some anti-gun violence/pro-legislation pieces shared. Check them out.
“I am not a silent poet welcomes quality poems of protest. We have been seeing such increasing evidence of abuse recently that we felt it was time to do something. I am not a silent poet looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms: colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of health services, the rape culture, FGM, our girls in Nigeria are just some of the examples that come to mind at the moment. It is not a site for rants.
“Please send all contributions for consideration to: email@example.com. I would prefer attachments (especially for poems with unusual formatting and graphic material. You can add a brief biographical note and/or link to your website or blog.” Reuben Woolley
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