Journalism In Verse

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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-

                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

bump-
                stock killers

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

                crack-crack-
                                crack

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

                thing—
                                rising

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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