Friday, December 21, 2012

Writing about Tragedies - Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook is a turning point. No matter where you stand on gun issues, already changes are in the air. But more importantly the spirit of a people became renewed in movements such as 20 Kindnesses and in opening the door for mental health awareness.

On the poetry list at The Internet Writing Workshop there was a discussion after 911 about how poets were not writing poems about the Towers falling. Speculating why, some writers mentioned an inability to put into words just what happened. Words appeared inadequate in light of such a culture-changing tragedy. That holds for Sandy Hook and its 26 lives.

There are exceptions in books about war and other tragedies, poet Suji Kwock Kim's Notes from the Divided Country being one exception. In fairness to last week's tragedy at Sandy Hook, though, it must be noted that Kim's book took time to write. It is well formed, polished over a long period of time.

To write poems about Sandy Hook while it is so fresh is to hit on points that come hurling through a fog of devastation numbed by shock. Points are left out, issues are missed. Maybe for that reason it is both brave and foolish to write about Sandy Hook when it is so raw with feeling.

But in the middle of the night Wednesday I had to put down what I witnessed on TV while it was new. I wrote so I could move through the feelings to the next point in healing. I wanted to add individual facts about each child and adult, but those are whole poems, whole books, and need time to develop. They should be written by those close to the souls who died, by their family and friends.

This little scrap that came to me in the night is all I have for now. It is an early attempt at grasping the event. It is probably inadequate, but I certainly know it is written in truth and with love.

Sandy Hook

Grown reporters cried - their eyes were swollen.
Parents could not identify their child's body.
And a man or a woman anonymously
donated money so people could have their guns
and firearms bought back. The line to sell the guns
stretched down the block. One sporting goods chain
permanently pulled complicated weapons from stock.
And we slowly healed and did not cower.
We turned anger back to love.
And on the fifth day, the NRA organized a defense.
And we said no more, no more.
No more troubled gunslingers.
No more innocents massacred.
No more parents heart-wrenched.
No more. No more, God. No more.

Patricia L. Johnson

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