Two years ago, By Jack Verhagen

Two Years ago,

I sat down to write a poem about a man
whose hands were stained with blood, who took so many lives
in a nightclub in Florida. Two years ago I watched with tearful eyes
as the stories of the victims flooded the Internet; two years ago I watched
as people said “not again, not again. this cannot happen again.”

Two years ago, my friends told me they were going to L.A. Pride and I said
“but what if, but what if. you know that’s a target, you know it is.”
and they said they’d be fine but the police caught a man
whose hands could have been stained with blood, who was trying
to drive to L.A. Pride with a trunk full of guns. I had so many
friends there that day. So many friends I could have lost in the space
of a heartbeat.

Two years later, I sit down to write a poem about a man
whose hands are stained with blood, who took so many lives
in a high school in Florida. Two years later I watch with tearful eyes
as the stories of the victims flood the Internet; two years later, I watch
as people say “not again, not again. never again.”

Two years later, things have not changed. But the people are
changing. The people will not be silenced. The people, no, the students
are standing up to say “never again. never again.
And this time they mean it.

Two years from now, I hope I will not have to sit down to write a poem about a man
whose hands are stained with blood, who took so many lives
somewhere in America. Two years from now, I do not want to watch
as the stories of the victims flood the Internet; two years from now I do not want
people to say “not again, not again. not again.”

Two years from now, I do not want to see any of this.
Because I do not want any of this to happen, ever again.

By Jack Verhagen

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

Biography:

Jack Verhagen is a 17-year-old poet from the sunny state of California. She enjoys writing and skateboarding, as well as frequenting any coffee shop that can be found in the area. She hopes to be able to compile a chapbook of her poetry in the near future, and looks forward to her future growth as a writer.

clawing at the grounded moon #34 By Darren C. Demaree

clawing at the grounded moon #34

i have forgotten almost completely all of the trysts that involved human bodies and human bodies alone spread jasmine whole jasmine what were we even doing before the moon became all that was in front of us armed with blood disarmed by blood we really did believe the tree only went as high as we could reach we really did believe that all that fleshy fruit was meant to guard more fruit

By Darren C. Demaree

Biography:

I am the author of nine poetry collections, most recently “Bombing the Thinker” (September 2018), which was published by Backlash Press. I am the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. I am currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.

red as in irony By Kimberly Lee

red as in irony

the young man across the street from me hands his girlfriend a large, red box of chocolates
proclaims “happy valentine’s day”
pecks her cheek and hugs her tightly as she squeals in delight.
i cannot help but remember that another young man is experiences these same red hues today
valentine’s day
he is the color red
red
as in fear
as in panic
as in blood.
somewhere up north a young girl pops a candy gram between her parted lips
savoring the taste, as it melts in an odd dance across her tongue
forgetting that somewhere down south a young girl two days her age desperately clings to the
cabinet her back has been pressed up against
praying to God that she may melt and fuse herself to cold metal, that she may become invisible
biting down hard on her tongue to stop the involuntary chatter that she knows will give her away
the clash of hearts and guns fill my screen
smiling faces
kissing their loved ones
the flurry of pink and red is slashed away by
the grief
the pain
of bawling mothers who kissed their loved ones just the same, now knowing they would never
return
of stoic faces of fathers
who refuse to comprehend that their orbit has been demolished
that their sun has been extinguished
i wonder when we became so numb
i wonder when we got used to the sight of our youth in more morgues than in our own homes.
was it the 1st time
the 2nd time
or the
18th?
we are showering candy and slathering hearts across this bloodstained day to smother piercing
gunshots and the hail of many bullets
are we are choosing to turn heads from our 17 brothers and sisters who will never laugh again
never smile again
never
breathe
again?

By Kimberly Lee

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

Biography:

Kimberly Lee is a 17 year old girl from New Jersey. She currently has two poetry books being sold in-stores at Barnes and Nobles, and has been published by Quintessence Magazine in addition to being published by Speak Out Publishing. She is absolutely obsessed with Holland lop and Netherland dwarf bunnies (she has two Holland lops!) and welcomes any and all pictures of bunnies ever.

i feel sick without it By alyssa hanna

i feel sick without it

i heard from a friend that you’re
sober now. or at least that’s what
you’re telling people. essential oils,
incense, candles, teacups with tea in them
instead of red wine mixed with stoli
or some other just-as-highbrow cocktail.
you were the one who told me that vodka was
my color, and the best accessories were black
skirts and bad company. you swallowed my rent
in a shot glass. but now, i hear, you’re

sober. a bartender who told me to build
up my liver, pound ‘em back
like a god damn adult. “i’m not
an alcoholic, and neither are you. have a glass
of smirnoff every morning; it only counts if you feel
sick without it.” you never got sick. not once.
you pushed me into a silver

car with a hungry wolf and told me
i should not have been such a
fucking deer. pour me deep eddy, pour
me three olives, pour me into the glass
cannon of a strip club and tell me that going along with
these boys is fine, pour me grey goose, ask me if i want
another free drink if i stay blackout and drooling with
you where we find ourselves in the back of a taxi where we
wake up on the balcony where i blink and you’re trading
me for an old fashioned where
were you sober when i needed you

By alyssa hanna

Biography:

alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in Reed Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Barren Magazine, Rust + Moth, BARNHOUSE, Pidgeonholes, and others. She was also nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2017 James Wright Poetry Competition. alyssa is an aquarium technician in Westchester and lives with her fish and special needs lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter, instagram, ko-fi, and patreon.

Talking Around The Problem By Jim Landwehr

Talking Around The Problem 

When geometry takes a backseat
to active shooting drills
and lock down exercises
We could have us a gun problem.

Or, when the student body
means one lying in the classroom
instead of the corporate whole.
We may have a gun problem.

Maybe when the suggested solution
to stopping the next school assassin
is to arm the English teacher.
We might just have us a gun problem.

If people speak about knives and bricks
as potential weapons of mass murder
“So are we going to ban those too?”
We certainly appear to have a gun problem.

When students become survivors
and stand up to NRA politicians
but still laws don’t change.
It’s safe to say we have a gun problem.

By Jim Landwehr

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

Biography:

Jim Landwehr has published two poetry collections Written Life and Reciting From Memory and a forthcoming chapbook, On A Road. He also has two books, The Portland House: A 70’s Memoir and Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir. He has non-fiction stories published in Boundary Waters Journal, Main Street Rag, MidWest Outdoors Magazine and others. His poetry has been featured in Torrid Literature Journal, Blue Heron Review, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, and many others. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin with his wife Donna, and their two children Sarah and Ben.

Alone By Wayne Russell 

Alone

Alone, she hides beneath the sheets
fading away from the light, fearful
of the world and all its pain.

Alone he dwells in his cardboard box,
meager possessions bundled with twine,
tear stained photos plummet from holes
in his shirt pocket.

Alone I lay me down to sleep, praying
for the safety of my children, the children
that my addictions have denied me the
right to see on a daily basis.

Alone the world shutters in a violent
universe, and God shakes his head in
disappointment and saunters away,
leaving us to our own devises, leaving
us alone.

By Wayne Russell 

Biography:

Wayne Russell is a creative writer that was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. Wayne is the founder and former editor and chief of Degenerate Literature. Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances and time restraints, DL closed in late 2017.

How Many? By Matthew Laverty

How Many?

Children need to die to solve this issue?

As if there were an answer, 14 more have left us, unfinished

essays, lunches, little things that made them

stronger day by day. The spirits of 138 children

since Newtown, is that too much to think about

when you close your eyes and there’s that lingering

feeling that somebody somewhere needs to be

let go from whatever it is that holds their head underwater,

but we ignore and ignore until we can’t any longer,

remove ourselves from what becomes

hostile conversation. There’s that aura of division

in every gleaming orifice in this country, and it is

hard to know what road if any leads to an office building in every city

with big signs that read: GUARANTEED BUY-BACK GUN DEPOSIT HERE,

or if we could go there to purge ourselves

of our guns without the threat of feeling

that we’re the ones about to be under attack.

How many parents must send their kids to school

knowing that today could be the last time

they see one another.

How many?

By Matthew Laverty

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

Biography:

Matthew Laverty earned a BLA from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where he studied creative writing under award winning poet Maggie Dietz and critically acclaimed author Andre Dubus III. His poems have appeared at Poetry Quarterly, FORTH Magazine, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @MattLavPoems, and on his Tumblr site MattLavWrites.