Poet Takes a Stand Against Gun Violence in the United States

What I like about Evelyn Augusto’s effort to help stop gun violence is that she combines poetry with action. She visits high schools to offer students tools that are not self-distructive. Evelyn’s contact info is at the bottom of the poster. Contact her if you’d like her to speak to your local high school.

At this writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive there have been twenty-five school shootings thus far this year resulting in twenty-five deaths and 118 injuries.

If you agree that we need to share this info – get the word out – please feel free to cut and paste this into a post on your own site or just use the WP reblog feature. Thank you!


MORE THOUGHTS

Poets Speak Out Against Gun Violence … responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

In memory of Teresa Margaret Mahfouz, beloved sister. 


“On his back, Robert must have had time to see something beautiful, and not just the ugliness of a city street at the end of life. Even with the tremendous pain in his badly gutted belly he would have looked up beyond the fire escapes and the windows with their glittery trees and television glows, to the sky about the rooftops. A sky shimmery with the possibilities of death; lights exaggerated, the heavens peeled back- a swirling haze of nebulae and comets – in some distant place, intimations of the new beginning into which he would soon journey.” Oscar Hijuelos, Mr. Ives’ Christmas

The last Wednesday Writing Prompt, Dueling With Words to Stop Gun Violence, November 1,  was the gift of Evelyn Augusto, the poet who initiated an effort with the same name. Details are in that post. Clearly Evelyn’s passion comes out of personal loss and experience and she is not alone in this.  Gun violence – self-directed and other-directed – touches all our lives to one degree or another. In this collection I’ve included my own Girl in a Wooden Box, which was published on this site and elsewhere but bears repeating as a cautionary tale about depression and the abundance of and ease of obtaining guns and ammunition.

Thanks to Evelyn and to Lisa Ashley, Paul Brookes, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Kakahli Das Ghosh, Renee Espriu and Colin Blundell for participating in this prompt and taking a valued stand against gun violence.


His First Gun, A True Story

(For DJ)

His first gun was a .357. He was seven,
sitting in the front seat.
His cousin, Dwayne, 16, was driving.
His 5-year-old brother in the back seat.
It was a drug deal.
New Orleans.

Some guys wanted our stuff.
Dwayne always said,
“Shoot ‘em before you let them rob you.”
Pow, pow, pow!
Dwayne is hit in the head!
Grab the wheel!

Tried to stop the blood.
He stopped breathing.
We all had guns.
We couldn’t take him to the hospital.

We dragged Dwayne into the bushes
beside the canal
and left him there.
Later, we went back.
Only some brown stuff on the leaves.
He was just gone.

The dreams were really bad.
They went on for a long time.

I’ve been doing the negativity for a long time.
I told my mom I’m done with this.
I’m going to give my life to God.
And football.
I can’t be in here any more.
I need to be back in school and training.
I’ve always been good at sports.
My coach said I was a freak, I’ve got a lot of talent.
I can’t get my GPA up in this school in here.
We take stupid classes in here like “life skills.”
What’s that?

My cousin said it was family business,
I needed to do it for the family.
I was like 10,11.
I went to do the deal.
I took out some of the stuff,
showed it to the guys.
They wanted to see it all.
I told them only after I got the money.
They told me to get in the car.
They started to grab me.
I took out my gun.
Pop, pop, pop!
I ran.
They didn’t come after me.
I went home.
I stayed inside all night and all day.
I didn’t go to school.
I didn’t go out.

I sleep with my gun.
When I wake up I check it.
I put it on the toilet while I take a shower.
I put it in my pants when I’m done.
Then I go out the house.

People think gun violence is all about the adults.
It’s not.
It’s the teens that got the guns.
I know a 12 year old in here had a .50.
It was so big he could hardly handle it.
All the kids have guns.
One time I had so many guns
couldn’t fit them all in my backpack.
I have to protect my mother and my sister.
But I know no matter how many guns I have
something can happen.
Guns aren’t good.

But I feel safer when I have one.

When my mother came for a visit last week
I told her the next time she sees a gun
it will be registered.
The next time she sees money on me
it will be money from my job.
I’ll give her half.
I’m done with this shit.

© 2017, Lisa Ashley  (www.lisaashleyspiritualdirector.com)


Our Massacre

Always portray the killer as deranged,
abnormal, an aberration of society.

Their actions are not those of us
ordinary decent folk, though we arm

ourselves to the teeth with the same
firepower we are reasonable.

Their geography is not ours. We must
distance ourselves. This person

Is not an old friend, a neighbour.
They are a stranger who acts

strangely. We must stress, though often
this behaviour is rare, an anomaly.

We do not know this person
who kills our friends and neighbours.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

The Enemy

is a thing, not a person
you chat to, smile with,

laugh with, share your bairns
With. They are something

you respond to and at, not with.
Once seen as it they are easier

to kill, to make redundant.
Don’t worry if this is a symptom

of a psychopath. It is the others
that are mentally deranged, not you.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

Guns Are (From A World Where 2)

good. Make you feel safe.
Make you more responsible,

like your own child. Nobody
hurts my child. I’ll shoot anyone

that does. My child needs
A decent education. Some shooter

Who wants to be famous kills
my little one in lessons.

I’m glad I’ve got my gun
so I can kill the shooter

and his family. Guns are good.
Make folk sit up and listen.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)


..97 the acting..

presume it was. walking

the lane, looked back,

boys in black, turn,

suddenly run shooting.

shouting. turn,

do it all again,

again. i turn,

all i see is heat haze.

we have four dead now.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher  (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)


#An octopus of black smoke#

You love violence
You love bloodshed…
A perpetual war you fought
in an endless night…..
Where lies bravery while you kill innocence…
When your loud laughter
ruptures ailing hearts..
Your firm stick beats flimsy backs…
You are courageous
when the other stands before you with
tender eyes and limp knees…
You are rich when the other is bankrupt.
Have you ever thought that a spiral knot of bankruptcy ..
an octopus of black smoke is approaching to you..
Your throat would be choked
Your breathing would be amiss..
The faint one you desired to distract has also a garden like you
Where flowers flourish Colorful butterflies fly
Humble bees buzz every day and night..
How many jewels have you grabbed
How many rivers of peace have flown through your chest
Being so aggressive..
Now a cloud of languish is nearer to you
A fear of being lost is chasing you..
Your garden may demolish by his musket …
Now its not a face to face war
Its a revenge of mass killing Numerous bloody rivers
would be created ..
You are unknown of it
You are unaware of this new bloody horror
You are ignorant of losing your lovable birdhouse…
If you kenned that…
you never did grab that firegun
Never became a witch bloodthirsty.

© 2017, Kakali Das Ghosh


Guns Are Not the Path to Peace

The child found what looked like a toy
but when a way was found
to fulfill curiosity

found their friend
lying dead at their feet

guns are not the answer to feeling secure
left lying within the reach of
innocence

she was about her morning
preparing breakfast
on yet another Valentine’s Day

when she heard a gunshot
fill the air
and looking ’round

found her husband
of many years crumpled
in the doorway

dead…a gun in his hand

guns are not the answer to depression,
to problems seemingly
having no answer

Leaders of the world always disagreeing
make plans for larger armies
to carry more guns

to kill more people who are caught
in the cross hairs

guns are not the answer to solutions
for forcing others to agree
to another countries’ ideas

guns are not the path to peace

© 2017 Renee Espriu  (Renee Just Turtle Flight and Inspiration, Imagination & Creativity with Wings, Haibun, AR, Haiku & Haiga)


Girl in a Wooden Box

packing
my blue bag
pocketing
my lipstick
turning my back
to Brentwood

I’m on my way home.

Brooklyn beckons
as it always did
as it always does
Hudson River
city parks
a cacophony of languages
a melting pot

She’s on her way too.

by air
not track

her trunk
packed
by strangers
shipped

light
with flip-flops
a blouse
a skirt
poor
practical
that would be her

Occasionally I’d seen her laugh.

I’m
on my way
train grumbling
wheels screeching
town
upon town
Flatbush- a hub
and my stop

and there was my aunt
and there was my mother
and there was the news

Teresa Margaret
is on her way home
shipped
from Florida
on a DC10

stored
along with her trunk
a girl in a wooden box
in a cargo hold

a poor cold girl
Colder bullet in her head.

© 2017, Jamie Dedes


And this addition to the post from Colin Blundell:
Jamie: I notice that I’m 23 minutes late with this! I was stumped with the prompt, sound though it is! I can only think that the world will only change when individuals decide to make a difference. Fifty years ago I signed the Peace Pledge Union pledge: ‘I renounce war and refuse to support or sanction another…’ Anybody who supports the possession of guns and threatens others with bombs is, in my book, just a bloody idiot and I note that the world is full of them, from Trump & Co to the latest shooter…
For a few days I have contemplated posting this bit of irony:
*
I don’t like to admit my views in public
because there’s too much – far too much –
for public people to attack:
you see I’m a vegetarian anarcho-pacifist
I’m vegetarian
because I believe in a fair deal for cows
I disapprove of kings
while bombs & guns scare me
(Easter 1965)
*
23 minutes too late!
© 2017, Colin Blundell (Colin Blundell, All and Everything)

 


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DUELING WITH WORDS TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE: Wednesday Writing Prompt


Given the media reports on the U.S., you might think we are the only ones with gun violence problems. Unfortunately we are not alone.  According to a Global Burden of Disease study in 2013, firearms were the cause of 180,000 deaths worldwide, up from 128,000 in 1990.  Approximately 47,000 were unintentional.

 “The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems — and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’.” — Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, March 2000

According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, there are many countries that surpass United States in gun violence. These are largely in the Caribbean and Central America,  the result of gangs and drug trafficking.

A recent feature in Forbes Magazine reports that annual firearm-related deaths in the Philippines are 9.46 per 100,000 and 9.41 per 100,000 in South Africa. According to Kaiser Foundation the U.S. is at 11.1 per 100,000.

“From 1979 to 1997, almost 30,000 people in the United States alone died from accidental firearm injuries. A disproportionately high number of these deaths occurred in parts of the United States where firearms are more prevalent.” Wikipedia

The presence of guns in households and the ease of acquiring guns contribute to the numbers of successful suicides. In fact, my sister died from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the head. She was twenty-seven and I was thirteen. It’s been fifty-four years but I have never stopped wondering how and where she acquired a weapon and how she learned to use it.

“There are more than 875 million firearms in the world, 75 per cent of them in the hands of civilians. Guns outnumber passenger vehicles by 253 million, or 29 per cent. Each year about eight million new small arms, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured — enough bullets to shoot every person in the world not once, but twice.The authorised international trade in small arms and ammunition exceeds US $7.1 billion each year.” GunPolicy.org (hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health)

ACCORDING TO THE GENEVA CONVENTION ON ARMED VIOLENCE AND DEVELOPMENT:

  • More than 740,000 people have died directly or indirectly from armed violence – both conflict and criminal violence – every year in recent years.
  • More than 540,000 of these deaths are violent, with the vast majority occurring in non-conflict settings.
  • The annual economic cost of armed violence in non-conflict settings, in terms of lost productivity due to violent deaths, is USD 95 billion and could reach as high as USD 163 billion – 0.14 percent of the annual global GDP.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa

Today, for Wednesday Writing Prompt, we tackle gun violence. In concert with poet Evelyn Augusto of Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence, I ask you to bare witness and to do the work of raising the communal consciousness of this critical issue, especially the consciousness of those who feel the need to carry guns, those for whom a gun is part of their identity. This is the first time I’ve invited a guest to post a prompt and I do so because Evelyn has made a commitment to this cause.  You can read more about what she’s doing HERE.

– Jamie Dedes

Photograph courtesy of Tony Webster under CC BY 2.0.


“537 children under the age of eleven have been killed or injured by gun violence in the United States this year alone, according to Gun Violence.org.” Evelyn Augusto


U R Not Your Gun

(For Shaun)

You are: The sound of your mother’s voice calling your name and your father’s
chance for a better life–not his,
but yours, because it’s too late for him,
but not for you…not yet, unless you forget

U R Not Your Gun.

You are your greatest fantasy and
someone’s best friend and another’s
first love. You are shelter
from the storm.
You are memory and risk and reward.
You are tougher than your
disappointments, you are kinder
than you imagine, you are everything
that child you once were
wanted to be and more. But

U R Not Your Gun–

not grey and cold and lifeless.
Not unforgiving like that. Not hollow or predictable. Not dangerous.

U R Not Your Gun. You are someone
I can love.

© October 2017, Evelyn Augusto for GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE POETS DO… 


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Write a poem…post a poem….Stop gun violence.

If you feel comfortable, leave your work or a link to it in the comments section below. All work shared on theme will be published by The Poet by Day next Tuesday and also on GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE, POETS DO…DUELING WITH WORDS TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE . Anyone is welcome to take part in Wednesday Writing Prompt no matter the status as a poet: beginning, emerging or established. You have until next Monday at 8 pm PST to respond.


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LATE BREAKING NEWS: The National Beat Poetry Foundation partners with Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do


The National Beat Poetry Foundation (NBPF) has asked to partner with GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE, POETS DO: Dueling with words to stop gun violence. Evelyn Agusto will be featured as a guest poet at Kerouac Cafe on Saturday, October 7, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm EST. NBPF has dedicated the event, since the Las Vegas holocaust, to the work of stopping gun violence.

If you are in the area (Hartford, Connecticut), please go to this event and support this cause. 

U R Not Your Gun

(For Shaun)

You are: The sound of your mother’s voice calling your name and your father’s
chance for a better life–not his,
but yours, because it’s too late for him,
but not for you…not yet, unless you forget

U R Not Your Gun.

You are your greatest fantasy and
someone’s best friend and another’s
first love. You are shelter
from the storm.
You are memory and risk and reward.
You are tougher han your
disappointments, you are kinder
than you imagine, you are everything
that child you once were
wanted to be and more. But

U R Not Your Gun–

not grey and cold and lifeless.
Not unforgiving like that. Not hollow or predictable. Not dangerous.

U R Not Your Gun. You are someone
I can love.

© 2017, Evelyn Augusto for GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE, POETS DO…


Evelyn Augusto of Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do and Glen Falls House are coming together to host the even POET OUT: Dueling With Words To Stop Gun Violence on Friday, October 6th at 8pm EST at The Glens Falls House in Round Top. Tell others about the legacy of gun violence and share your experiences with gun violence through poetry.


IN HONOR OF NATIONAL POETRY DAY, 2017

Poetry at Waterloo Station for National Poetry Day 1994 courtesy of Daisyheadmaisie under CC BY-SA 4.0


While I was so taken up with chores related to the September and October issues of The BeZine and 100TPC 2017, I completely missed National Poetry Day (UK and Ireland), so here’s a little something in its honor courtesy of Wikipedia. The theme for 2017 was Freedom.

National Poetry Day is a British campaign to promote poetry, including public performances. National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart. It takes place annually in the UK and Ireland on a Thursday in late September/early October. Since its inception, it has engaged millions of people across the country with live events, classroom activities and broadcasts. National Poetry Day is coordinated by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. Its other projects include the Forward Prizes for Poetry. The day is run in collaboration with partners including Arts Council England, Literature Wales, Poet in the City, Southbank Centre, The Poetry Book Society, The Poetry Society, The Scottish Poetry Library, Poetry By Heart and The Poetry School.

Prince Charles performed in the 2016 National Poetry Day, reading Seamus Heaney’ The Shipping Forecast. On 2015 National Poetry Day poems were included on Blackpool Illuminations.

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