For the victims,
I’m sorry because your country has failed you,
as it has failed countless others before you,
and unless we make changes
it will fail countless others after you.
I’m sorry that some of you will never get to graduate,
that some of you will never have families,
that some of you will never go home again.
I’m sorry you will never go to prom,
or see a show on Broadway,
or buy your first house.
I’m sorry that you weren’t safe
in the one place you were supposed to be.
I’m sorry that you can never walk your halls again without seeing ghosts,
I’m sorry you had to grow up so fast.
I’m sorry that you suffered,
that you were scared,
that you were hurt,
that you were scarred,
that you were lost.
I’m sorry I have to light your candle,
and stir the soil beneath your name.
I’m sorry you’re spending time
during what should be prime of your life
in a hospital, or a hearse.
I’m sorry that you had to run away from bullets
the same way politicians run away from solutions,
I’m sorry that truth is second to collusion,
I’m sorry that we favor money and murder to peace,
I’m sorry that all anyone does is say sorry,
I’m sorry it has taken me this long to stand up,
I’m sorry that all I have done is post a hashtag,
hold up a sign,
write a couple poems,
How many more people have to die
before I get up and do something?
I’m sick of the silence
that can only be broken by more acts of violence.
All of this evil happens on our watch, so now
I refuse to watch one more shooting be normalized,
I refuse to watch one more photo roll across the TV screen,
I refuse to watch one more hashtag #prayfor
I refuse to watch one more victim be buried
six feet deep in a Wikipedia archive.
Watch me speak up.
Watch us make change.
We may not have a solution but we will be the voice,
We may not have every answer but we do have a choice.
Are we going to let this be another statistic?
Or will we step up for what we believe in and do what’s right?
This is new ground for all of us,
untreaded sand that will suck our feet down and wear us out,
and it will be hard,
but not as hard as saying goodbye to seventeen lives,
not as hard as having to build another seventeen coffins,
on top of the how many others before them?
For the victims,
I will try to understand you;
see things the way you do,
from a person’s point of view;
a person who’s positively petrified
of being the next statistic,
the next hashtag,
the next CNN montage,
the next unfinished business.
And you can see things like me,
a person who knew far too many victims,
and far too many survivors,
and I only knew one of each-
but isn’t just one too many?
I am a person who just wants change,
and seek it the only way I know how:
asking questions again and again,
making my statements via paper and pen,
attending the rallies,
and supporting my fellow students,
For the victims,
I will continue to write anti-violence poems,
even though I’m really tired of writing anti-violence poems,
because there’s only so many ways you can convey that a premature death is wrong,
there are only so many metaphors that can help the survivors stay strong.
So put me out of a job, hell!
I will find something new to write about.
Literarily defending the violence’s ending,
there’s only so many angles to take.
Countless lives lost? check.
Countless more scared? check.
Countless more changed beyond repair? check.
Countless things to say and yet somehow,
I have already said them all.
I am young, and I may not have the answers,
but I am loud enough to start the conversation
so that somebody else might think of a way to end it.
Everything felt so far away until it hit so close to home.
Now, it is real for us, so let’s make it real for the rest of the country.
We are preaching to the deaf, and that makes us mute.
We need to make sure everyone else hears us,
everyone else steps up,
everyone else understands how critical is is that we make change now.
It is up to us to unite and stand together.
These labels dividing us are so superficial.
We all want the same thing.
We all want less deaths by guns,
we all want safer schools,
we all want less photographs “in memory” on the news.
Ditch the labels.
It is the only way they will take us seriously.
Because we’re just kids,
and we’re not old enough to know anything,
we’re not old enough to matter,
but we’re old enough to die, right?
We must be loud enough to be heard.
We must be productive enough to be seen.
We must be present enough to be undeniable.
End gun violence.
Save the children.
Make the schools safe again.
Register to vote,
then actually vote.
Make your voice heard.
Drop the labels, and pick up someone’s hand.
Together, we can make America safe again.
For the victims.