The First on Record

We wake up every morning and turn the tv on

The weather

The news

The school shooting

The weather

The news

Another school shooting


Like robots we no longer focus on

Being taken back



Or annoyed

We don’t even turn the channel anymore

We shake our heads

Shrug our shoulders and wait for the final commercial to play

So that we can see what the damage is.

We say things like “only two people got her, that not bad”

“One dead, can believe that even made the news”

Maybe a sympathetic parent may say
“glad it’s not my kids school, I’ll pray for them.”


New day

New news

New weather

Same old school shooting


But before

Back in the day

When it was rare

Never seen

Never heard of

The uproar was so much bigger

More out of character.


America is so violent

People are more prone to have a gun than

An ounce of common sense when it comes to using it

More likely to throw around the word “arsenal”

Then “safety”

But in 1840 in Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virgina

A professor

Was shot by his student

Lived for three days

Then died

In 1840.

It happened back then

And this is the evolution

This is the now of gun violence

We act as though it is something new but this

Particular evolution

Is not like going from playing on an Atari to a Play Station

Not like going from walking barefoot to wearing Nike’s

Not like eating bacon that was hunted and killed for food versus buying it in the grocery store.

The evolution of gun violence rises hand in hand with the evolution of school shootings

Like twins that come in late from recess

Never separated

Always together

To take care of each other

Lie for each other

When you see one you see the other

From 1840 to now

From Charlotteville to the University of Texas in Austin

Some shoot from high above and others school from down below

Some kill for the recognition swimming in bullets in Columbine

And others for their deep-rooted hate South Carolina

Some prey on the littlest of minds:


Sandy Hook.


There is no isolation

No one

No location is safe

We have metal detectors at the entrances of schools


Grocery stores

Movie theatres


But not at our homes where all of the guns live.

Tucked away under our mattress

In a gun safe

In a room full of guns and bullets

That is taken care of as if it is the holy grail of home expenses.

There is no stopping or slowing down in sight

A race to a finish line of justifications of why I need 100 guns

Why I should be able to show my five-year-old how to shoot

Why that shooting at that school won’t happen to me and my kid

Why our children can’t read but they can shelter in place

Why our juvenile justice system is overcrowded

But my daughter knows where to hide if she ever needs to

Why our kids attend school with clear backpacks, get patted down,

Go through metal detectors, spend time learning how to defend themselves

Against active shooters in a place where the only thing that should

Be happening is education.

Why the average age of a child’s first phone has dropped significantly

So they can call for help

As they are under a table

Looking at the shadows passing under the door

Cringing when the footsteps stop

When the handle to the door is jiggled

When the shooting is over

And the teacher is gone

And no one thinks about, reflects on, or years later ever wonders

“What happened to those kids. You know the ones who survived. The ones

Who watched their teacher and classmates be shot. The five-year-old that

called his mom to ask her if she can come and get him

as bullets were spraying all around him.”


How have we evolved?

In this country?

From 1840 and the first recorded shooting at a school

How have we evolved?


Makes me laugh to even think about it.

We haven’t

We have digressed

Fallen off

No matter the word choice we have failed our kids.


From 1840 to now

Life is easier.

You can buy a gun at the grocery store in some states.

No waiting time just need your ID

Mom can buy it

Dad can let you borrow it

Unsecured stash places

Bullets inside, ready to go.

I often wonder what the wife of Professor John Anthony Gardner Davis

Thought when the police told her

Her husband was dead

One of his students shot him.

I wonder if she was in disbelief

This kind of things doesn’t happen at a university

This kind of thing doesn’t happen in America

This kind of thing must stop now.


Isn’t it interesting… the same things she thought or said

…same things we say now.


We have evolved in school shootings…

And I fear what the poetry will sound like

100 years from now.

How many kids will have died then?

How many teachers would have sacrificed themselves to save a child?


How many guns will you have in your arsenal?

Poetry Slam: 
This poem is about: 
My country


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