(R)evolution By Eija Sumner


I’ve seen survival advertised:
a blockade for a door,
a bullet-proof backpack,
Run, Hide, Fight,
in place of letter-sounds and alphabets.

Men, almost always men,
inviting sepsis as they jab
their white-knuckled fingers
at amendment number two,
and bury guns in their yards.

I’ve witnessed
open carry in the park,
holstered on the hip
as if the playground wasn’t
carefully designed and regulated.
“This is a smoke-free zone”
protecting children
from second-hand smoke.

But what of bodies riddled
from lead bullets
coated in copper,
lungs punctured.
Children breath in metal
as they climb the ladder,
and slide down the structure
in primary colors.

A report:
an angry boy
pulled the trigger
on an innocent girl
who owed him nothing.

What is it about guns
that make men think:
I will want to be with you?
I want you to know me?
What is it about guns
attached to uniforms?
You can see a black man
and not shoot him.

You can be angry,
and take a walk in woods,
or down the block,
feeling leaves and sticks
crunch beneath boots,
and never pull your finger
into a trigger
to take a life.

Anger doesn’t equal harm,
and here I am wondering
how did men profess
to understand math
for so long?

I’ve watched two white males
enter the movie theatre
late—then split.
Trench coats matching,
bookends by exits,
my lungs trapped,
my mind raced
to solve the puzzle.

Always the lungs
trying to breathe,
finally finding air
away from the panic
to the empty
red-carpeted hallway,
counting my breaths
like I learned
from Lamaze.

I think about lungs
those spongy organs
trying to breathe,
expanding in chests,
always striving,
pink in their hopefulness
as knees lift,
feet strike ground,
and they’re running,
backpacks bouncing on shoulders,
to what’s next,
around the corner,
down the hallway,
into the future.
Lungs inhaling oxygen,
then expelling poison
to survive,
and finally
for the fight.

By Eija Sumner

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Eija Sumner is a writer and illustrator from the Inland Northwest. She is currently working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University.

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