I can hear the voices,
dark and bitter as the coffee
being served in tiny foam cups
at police stations, hospitals,
and funeral parlors.
Where was God’s shield
when the bullets were fired?
How could God do nothing
as innocent blood was spilled
in God’s own house?
But this is not God’s fault.
This is a human fault—
the fault that runs beneath
our civil facades and through
the tremulous spaces between us.
The fault that threatens to split us apart
and send us tumbling
to the depths of self-destruction.
God granted us free will
and our choices pave our paths.
If we sacrificed our freedom
for divine intervention,
we would be resigned to whatever fate
was arbitrarily handed out to us,
and life would lose its mysterious
and sometimes terrifying beauty.
God did not allow this to happen.
Humans allowed this to happen.
And we can make a choice
standing here at the crossroads
of what we have become
and what we yet can be.
We can choose to tear open that fault,
allow ourselves to be swallowed
by a chasm of hate and resentment.
Or we can choose to face our demons
and fight for our souls.
We can choose to fuel the ember of hope
flickering in the darkness,
glowing in each other’s eyes.
And we can choose love
as our shield and our salvation,
let it guide us out of this hell we’ve created.
We can choose love. We can choose love.


And I’ll Cry Again

The news is like a horror film I watch every night
though I know it will cause me nightmares.
I’ll wake up trembling and crying
because I was temporarily locked
in the dark places of my imagination
where you are taken from me.

But the news is a reality more terrifying
than anything Hollywood can create
because all those children are dead
and they won’t be resurrected
by the empty thoughts and prayers
of the people who failed to protect them.

Those children won’t play another game,
or go to the movies with their friends,
or dance at prom with their first love.
They won’t go home to their parents—
parents who will always be missing
a part of themselves, who will always
find it a little harder to breathe.

I cry for these children. I cry for their parents.
I cry because I know nightmares can come true
and I can’t protect you from everything,
and I don’t even know if you’re safe at school.

I cry because I don’t know if the monster of violence
will claim you, another sacrifice for his insatiable appetite.

I cry because there is so much anger and hate
in this world and I don’t want it to poison your soul.

I cry because I never knew a love like this
until the moment I held you in my arms,
and now you’re too big for me to hold
and my arms can’t be your shield.

I cry and I’ll cry again because this world
can be horrifying and too many children are dying,
and I find it harder to breathe
every time I imagine being the mother
that must bury her child.

The only way to find a moment of reprieve
from the overwhelming fear and heartache
is to go to your room and watch you sleep—
safe and tucked away.


Never Again?

Hit the ground-
.     running
                       everyone running.

But how do you escape
   the anger
        the hate
.                         the burning resentment
condensed into bullets.

How do you hide
   from the jaundiced eye
             behind the scope-
.                        focused
blinded by fury.

How do you shield
.     yourself
.               or anyone else,
from the fear
.               the loathing
.                         the contempt,
carried in holsters.

Hit the ground.
            Hit the ground.

Cover your ears-
.     block out the explosion
             of screams
                       the cries
the deafening silence.

Cover your eyes-
   shut them to them to the violence
             the horror
                       the spilling of blood
            and innocence,
.                         the nightmare
that will forever haunt you.

Hit the ground.
             Hit the ground.

Don’t move-
   play dead,
.                         for an end
             to the slaughter
of the lambs.

Hit the ground-
.                         everyone running
from the problem,
.               from the truth.

Hit the ground.
.               Hit the ground.


The Questions That Need to Be Asked

Does violence pulse through our veins,
is it twisted around our DNA, carved on our bones?
Did we carry it with us as we left the primordial womb,
is it the shadow that trails us as we crawl towards evolution?

And is hate a primeval serpent coiled in the dark
recesses of our souls, ready to strike the stranger
who ventures too close to our den of ignorance?
When threatened by the unknown, does it hiss
and bare fangs armed with the venom of fear?

Are these parasites curled up inside each of us,
poisoning our hearts and infecting our minds?
Are we merely unwilling hosts, unable to cure the cancer
that slowly kills compassion and turns us against each other?

Do violence and hate act in unison to take control
of our thoughts, and bend our will to their desires?
Are they the chains that hold us hostage to impulse
and reaction, making us prisoners of the beasts within?
Are they the masters who threaten our own lives,
our own freedom, if we don’t take another’s?

Will we continue to attack each other in an attempt
to rid ourselves of the contamination,
to free ourselves from the narrow primal cage?
Or will we look within, flush the parasites
from their hiding places, remove the beasts
of hate that eat away at our humanity?
Can we end this plague of violence
before all hope is buried in a mass grave?

Will we learn to be more than wild animals
fighting over territory or food or sex or whatever
reasons we invent to justify our cowardly contempt?
Can we untangle the violence from our DNA,
and smooth away its mark from our bones?

Will we ask the questions that need to be asked?
Will we? Can we?


Lisa L. Weber is an idealist who believes in the power of love and poetry. Her work has appeared online at Anti-Heroin Chic, The Ginger Collect, Memoir Mixtapes, Rag Queen Periodical, Burning House Press, and Rose Quartz Journal. You can follow her on Twitter @LisaLermaWeber