Friday, April 19, 2024

Guest Poem: 'When I Heard'

<p>MSU students hold up signs protesting against gun violence during the sit-in protest at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Feb. 20, 2023.</p>

MSU students hold up signs protesting against gun violence during the sit-in protest at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Feb. 20, 2023.

Photo by Sonya Barlow | The State News

By Cassidy Howard, MSU journalism freshman

I was eight.
when I first heard the sob-stained voice
of my teacher telling me
where in a classroom I could hide.

hardly older than the Sandy Hook students,
but like them,
apparently old enough
to look appetizing to a gun.

I was ten.
when I heard
a man with a rifle
was walking around my school.
we hid behind the piano.

I was twelve
when I heard
my name was found on a list,
and handcuffs found their way around my classmate’s wrists.

and i wrote to the world,
begging for some kind of change

I was thirteen
when I heard another 17 funerals ,
would be held for 17 people,
who only wanted to go to class.

I was sixteen
when I heard
people only a few hours away,
were robbed of four classmates,
four friends.
four siblings.
four CHILDREN.

I was seventeen.
When I heard
that nineteen children,
the same age as my brother,
were murdered.

and I wrote again,
asking if the NRA would pay for those caskets,
but I never got an answer.

We were seven.
We were eight.
We were ten.
We were twelve, and thirteen.
We were sixteen.

we were EIGHTEEN
when I heard the sirens,
when I heard the sobs,
when I heard the police say the name of my dorm hall.

and I have heard “thoughts and prayers”
I have heard “change”
I have heard “reform”
from an age where those words were no more than grown-up talk

but I continue to hear the man on the television,
tell me every sign that we should have seen.

as if that keeps me from sitting in class,
with no air in my chest,
because i can’t figure out what would break the window next to me.

as I am grappling with the fact,
that being in a school is a political statement.
-
it was two weeks after being barricaded,
when I heard
someone was going to bring a gun to my brother’s middle school.

but I still haven’t heard of any change.

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