Photo from a vigil held for the victims of the shooting in Parkland, Florida.‘The Parkland, Florida, School Shooting’ by Bruce Dale Wise The Society February 20, 2018 Culture, News of Note, Poetry, Terrorism 16 Comments This life—O, how much more of it remains? The night is brief. Toward those short trees, we saw a bird, descending with our grief. Chris Hixon, Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel vanished in the day. Luke Hoyer, Meadow Pollack, Carmen Schentrup went away. Helena Ramsey, Alex Schachter, Jaime Gutenberg: alas their lot, they left in winter, sunlight still a blur. And Cara Loughran, Nicholas Dworet, they were cut off, like Joaquin Oliver, who too untimely had to fall. Alaina Petty, Martin Duque Anguiano gone, along with Gina Montalto, we will not hear their song. Alyssa Alhadeff departed, as did Peter Wang; short February this year seems intolerably long. Bruce Dale Wise is a poet living in Texas. 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Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 16 Responses James Sale February 20, 2018 This is a very powerful poem, Bruce, and I think the best I have yet read from you; it is epic – the honour roll call – and yet concise at the same time; and the final line is brilliant: intolerably long indeed. Reply Mr. Wise February 21, 2018 I thank you, Mr. Sale, for your praise, it is hard won; “I think I will not hang myself today,” ah, Chesterton. Reply J. Simon Harris February 20, 2018 Beautiful work. I agree with Mr. Sale about the final line. Thank you for making this about the victims and not about politics (on either side). Reply Amy Foreman February 20, 2018 Such a moving tribute, Bruce. Thank you. Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie February 20, 2018 Had there been an armed person to stop the killer, perhaps this fine poem—which draws its force from its very brevity, symbolizing the brevity of life—never would have been written. Reply Leonard Dabydeen February 20, 2018 A strikingly poignant, emotional roll-call poem to treasure the seventeen people who lost their lives in the Parkland shooting. Powerful write, Bruce. Please allow me to share my take on this tragedy: Parkland Massacre (Florida, 2018) When you can’t share a smile on Valentine There’s reason to believe Life’s lost sunshine; When sound of fire alarm comes to your ear There’s reason to believe your time is near. When you’re set for learning at M.S.D High Seventeen have lost their lives, oh, we sigh! When the AR-15 slugs closed their eyes Parkland echoed the world at their demise. When common sense wails for some gun control Echelon bureaucrats smirk at the toll; When parents and their loved ones say, “No more” They envisage a world ne’er seen before. But parents must not sleep without resolve: Affirmative action is to revolve. Reply Leo Yankevich February 21, 2018 This is a very good poem, Bruce. Reply David Watt February 21, 2018 Bruce, this is a moving tribute. The inclusion of the seventeen people’s names brings poignancy befitting this tragedy. Reply Charles Southerland February 21, 2018 This is really good, Bruce. Reply David Paul Behrens February 21, 2018 A very powerful poem about the Parkland shooting, Bruce. Thank you. Here are a few which I wrote following other such tragedies: WHO CARES? (2017) Say your prayers and mourn the dead But much more killing is still ahead As long as guns are in our lives Only a random number survives Empty words are always spoken As the heart of society is broken Many say all we can do is pray Save legislation for another day Second Amendment is a suicide pact Now is the time for leaders to act And do more than just offer prayers Show us which of you really cares HO-HUM (2015) Another mass shooting, ho-hum Life in America is so humdrum Be proud of the land of the free The land of deadly opportunity Born with a right to own a gun Get prepared to duck and run Never knowing when bullets may fly Going to school means willing to die Another normal day in America land How many more deaths can we stand? There seems to be no end in sight As long as owning guns is a right Second Amendment must be removed So life in America can be improved Most politicians are nothing but scum One more massacre, oh well, ho-hum GUN RIDDLE (2013) Two men meet Walking down the street Each sees a gun On the other one Each becomes frightened The paranoia is heightened So each draws a gun And shoots the other one Hey diddle diddle Solve this riddle Two men meet Walking down the street One has a gun The other has none Which one is dangerous? Which is safer for us? Reply Mr. Wise February 22, 2018 I did not want to write this poem. For some time I had been avoiding this news story. When I finally did focus on it, I approached the tragedy looking at the perpetrator. But after I had written those lines, I thought, What about the victims? So I typed all of the names out—as Mr. Sale has pointed out, “the honour roll call.” From there, the poem took over. Mr. Sale and Mr. Harris kindly noted the last line, which I think was actually the fourth line written. As the poem progressed, names and phrases jostled for position, until I was “satisfied.” I hated to write about this event, and despite Aristotle’s note about purging oneself of such events by dealing with them linguistically, I wrote a more upbeat poem about “Guyana” to purge myself of this event. Ancient Greek dramatists wrestled with tragedy from “myths,” so they could work abstractly with such wretched material [an exception is Aeschylus, in “The Persians”]. But in this era we have so many events occurring diurnally to choose from, it is overwhelming. I really hate such senseless acts, and I have always hated Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” mainly because of its random brutality. Yet, from Homer on, literary artists have dealt poetically and prosaically with such violence, such evil. Ms. Foreman and Mr. Watt have noted the poem is a tribute to the victims, and indeed it is. I think it is the poet’s duty to remember, that is, to memorialize that which is worthy of remembrance, and certainly their lives are worthy of that. Mr. Mackenzie noted that the poem draws its force from its shortness, symbolizing the shortness of life. The opening two lines, using the words “brief” and “short” to contrast with the final word “long,” are actually revisions of haiku written by Shiki (1867-1902), the Japanese writer and literary critic, who died early, and suffered long from tuberculosis. Notice the tripartite aspect of those lines. Partly what drew me in to haiku was the number of dead, as Mr. Dabydeen and Mr. Watt pointed out, seventeen, and how short haiku are to begin with. Obviously it is a topic many people have been thinking about poetically, as can be seen in the lines of Mr. Dabydeen and Mr. Behrens, who focus on both action and inaction. Finally I thank Mr. Yankevich and Mr. Southerland for saying the poem was good. I think what little goodness there is in it comes from poetically facing the event. I just prefer the intellectual and the mundane, the happy and the fun. I don’t like finding the good, the beautiful, and the true in tragedy, because it is so hard. Reply Leonard Dabydeen February 23, 2018 @ Mr. Wise Happening Now (a tetractys) Keep your heart tap dancing to the rhythm let your mind play with the good, bad, ugly. Reply Debbie February 22, 2018 So sad that there was another such incident. The news has become so horrific, I refuse to watch. I got rid of my TV a couple years ago. Hearing about such terrible incidents through well thought out poetry such as this gives me enough to know what is going on without the non-stop media coverage of it. Thanks for sharing this~Debbie Reply Leonard Dabydeen February 23, 2018 Cannot help myself …. FOR AMNESTY INT’L (by Leonard Dabydeen) Injustice (fib) When such injustice keeps nagging your boiling entrails the hurt rumbles like volcano. The ache of inhumanity cries for ahimsa world of hate flagrant with shame. Hate (tetractys) You cannot sleep at night ghosts haunt your mind shadows of hate are your worst enemy. Corrupt (tetractys) Mind so cold so corrupt cannot thaw, chill hate speaks to his bowels without discharge. Guns (tetractys) Guns without fire control spit bullets that kill innocent lives screaming before they die. https://www.amnestyusa.org/trump100days/ Reply Ruel Widee Bacus February 27, 2018 Thanks for the tetractys. Guyana by Ruel Widee Bacus for Leonard Dabydeen The land of many waterfalls, like dropping Kaieteur, that rush in brilliant, giant columns, crashing through the air. The world’s second tallest, wooden church, St. George’s site, designed by Blomfield, is one-hundred-forty feet in height. In sports, Guyana’s cricketers compete on Windies team, the seven curry dish is served with rice or roti steamed. Out in the west, Roraima is Guyana’s highest point, upon the border of Brazil, to Venezuela joined. Most of the people live along the northeast coastal plain, with sugar, rice and gold, the country’s greatest export gain; Although much of the ocean coast below sea level lies, the Dutch-constructed kokers help protect against the tides. Though Walter Raleigh never found where Golden City was; today though crime is rampant there, there’s El Dorado Rum. And Parliament is pink and white beside palm trees and grass, while flags of red and gold and green, flap lined by white and black. Reply Damian Robin March 4, 2018 Above is mention of the shortness of Mr Wise’s poem and the Japanese haiku; how these relate to the shortness of life and the number killed randomly in Parkland; that ancient Greeks grapeled with tragedy and myths, put in inverted commas, as have authors since then; and that there is violence and evil in such events. ‘Memorial’ by Alice Oswald is a part translation of Homer’s Iliad, published in 2011 by the UK-based Faber and Faber. It can only be considered a part translation as it is selective, choosing to deal with those killed in the book, how they were killed, a bit of family background, and smilies from the book to link these short obituaries or death descriptions. Mr Wise’s ‘The Parkland, Florida, School Shooting’ is a similar approach to dealing with a nearer tragedy. Alice Oswald’s introduction states “Matthew Arnold (and almost everyone ever since) has praised the Iliad for its ‘nobility’. But ancient critics praised its ‘enargeia’, which means something like ‘bright unbearable reality’. It’s the word used when gods come to earth not in disguise but as themselves.” She goes further, saying she leaves out narrative “as you might lift the roof off a church to remember what you’re worshipping.” I think this describes what Mr Wise has done in this poem. There is much power in simply naming. The closeness in time to the event means we can read the poem without a gloss. In the future, the context may have to be re-iterated. But, right now, the holding of real beings, souls, away from the mess of ‘ordinary’ brutality can indicate the heavenly or god-like nature of the lives taken. Reply Leave a Reply to Amy Foreman Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.