Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Call Script for the Reporting of Bad & Erratic Behavior [AUDIO]

in Audio/Gun Violence/U.S. by

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed,
even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors
and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report
such instances to authorities, again and again!
– Donald Trump


Authorities? I would like to report bad & erratic behavior that poses a serious threat to public safety. I believe this man could be armed & dangerous. It’s also been said that he has a matchstick temper & is mentally ill. That may be conjecture, but I’ve been told to report such instances to the authorities. I think he intends to do harm to us all. I should also mention he has access to guns & other deadly weapons. His address? He moves around, but I believe he can be reached at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C. at least some of the time.

Hi, is this the police? I’m trying to report the bad & erratic behavior of internet trolls who spread the claim the Parkland shooter was a member of the white supremacist group the Republic of Florida. They called it a “prime trolling opportunity.” Basking in American dread.  Their bad & erratic behavior is spreading & they want it to burn over our TV screens: bump stocks, paramilitary, the men in white capes, the ones who will proudly state “yes, this shooter was one of ours.” I’ve been told to report such instances. I’ve been told internet trolls are harmless, but now the quiet mouths of 17 classmates & teachers did not live to tell us what they were murdered for.

Hello? I’d like to speak to the person in charge. I need to report the bad & erratic behavior of some members of Congress who have stifled gun legislation again & again. Would you like names? John McCain, Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst, Marco Rubio—it must be noted that Mr. Rubio has sent nothing but thoughts & prayers to the dead children of  his own state. That must be mental illness. Isn’t the definition of insanity to do the same thing over & over again with the same result? It seems the illness of inaction & acquiescence to the N.R.A. has infected a large majority in the same house. Maybe quarantine should be imposed? Do you think we should ask the Red Cross or UNICEF for assistance? You’re right, it should be the C.D.C. I’ll call them next, but won’t mention how we are all vulnerable.

Yes, I’m still here. Yes, I’ll hold. Hi, it’s the 15th day of February & there have been 5 school shootings in the United States already this year. I would like to report the bad & erratic behavior of those in power who think the deaths of our children mean nothing. I would also like to report their prayers & condolences do nothing. Is there a manager I could speak to? A supervisor then. How about a survey after the call ends? I’d like to give you rated feedback. Yes, I’ll wait while you check into it.

Hello? Hello? Did you hang up? I was told that when I know something is a big problem, I must report it, again & again. I’m still here—I just want to make sure you get this into the system. The 19-year-old boy who killed 17 people at his high school? It’s said he legally purchased his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle a year ago. He was just waiting for the perfect day to use it. Oh yes, & happy Valentine’s to you, too. Thank you. I’ve been told I should report such instances to the authorities again & again, I understand. I’ll call back tomorrow.



Danielle Mitchell is the author of Makes the Daughter-in-Law Cry (Tebot Bach 2017), selected by Gail Wronsky for the Clockwise Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as apt, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Eleven Eleven, Nailed Magazine, and is forthcoming in Vinyl and the Baltimore Review. Danielle is a winner of the Mary Editor’s Prize and the Editor’s Choice Award from The Mas Tequila Review. She is a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the founding director of The Poetry Lab in Long Beach, California.


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[New York Times]

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