Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Survivor Guilt

in Gun Violence by

to Senator Johnny Isakson

When I write to you, Johnny,
sometimes by bot, I try

peering into your hound-dog eyes
from afar. I mean, straight

through the machines designed
to screen me out—straight

to your vulnerability: you know,
Parkinson’s, grandson lost—

maybe you feel what it’s like to survive
though you nor I had to dive with

our 2-month old behind shelves
at a Wal-Mart hearing the bop-bop-


slide closer until it’s over you cradling
your son as you die. We didn’t have to

use our bodies to barricade
schoolroom doors when the

                stock killers

closed in. We’re not so terrified of class-
rooms we had to leave college, the rapid


filling our world so we kill ourselves in-
stead. I see you have an A rating from the N-

RA, but still you said: we have to do everything
within our powers to make sure it never

              happens again: that ceaseless popping

won’t stop. Do you feel it, Johnny? Stephen
Romero liked Legos and Batman—he was

just six like Avielle Richman who died at San-
dy Hook. Her father lasted six more years

before he felt spun right off the planet by grief &
the deniers. Being a survivor means it’s a hard


the mothers, the fathers—sons, daughters,
the friends & the strangers who shield

their own. Can’t you feel the guilt we’re liv-
ing? Because it’s time to rise, Johnny,

                every one who
                                died : our own.



Amy Pence authored two collections of poetry, The Decadent Lovely, Armor, Amour, and the hybrid book with Emily Dickinson at its center: [It] Incandescent. She’s published short fiction and non-fiction, lives in Atlanta, and tutors high school students.


Sen. Johnny Isakson: ‘Of course’ planning to run for re-election in 2022
[Atlanta Business Chronicle]

Second Amendment Issue Statement
[Johnny Isakson Official Senator Page]

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