Friday, December 1, 2023

Guest Poems: Cassidy Howard, MSU freshman

The MSU Union on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 - two days after the mass shooting in Michigan State University’s north campus.
The MSU Union on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 - two days after the mass shooting in Michigan State University’s north campus. —
Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

Guest poems by Cassidy Howard, MSU freshman

"Spartan Strong"

“MSU we love thy shadows,
when twilight silence falls”

echo lingering whispers in the air,
through vacant, eerie halls.

a sign reads “spartan strong”
i watch a classmate analyze the words,
and her tears fall before long.

for some reason every tragedy needs a slogan,
and “strong” is more often than not interwoven
and it’s hard to tell if that’s the emotion.


you hear that phrase,
and you think of Superman.
Mr. Incredible sorting through rubble in the blaze.

walking through walls fearlessly.
a one man team,
navigating life peerlessly.

and I
am not.

i was terrified.
i still am.
It’s 4 a.m. and my eyes are open wide,

i saw a dark room and froze,
my breath caught in my chest,
and i am prose-
ing on about the same four hours on loop.

but i still won’t let anyone tell me i am not
my own type of strong.

because we haven’t seen a comic,
where Superman looks in the mirror and
finds the strength to smile.

where he tries to write a reason,
and wakes up every day realizing he has to make it worthwhile .

because i got to survive,
i need to live and not just be alive.

prove that things happened for a reason,
not succumb to dresen.

i never saw Clark Kent,
find the strength to ask for help,
or learn to put himself first
when the world shows you it’s worst.

i missed the episode where Spider-Man’s
laughs turned to sobs,
on a dorm-room futon.

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when he tried so hard to smile,
and it faltered,
so he got a crash course in letting people hold him.

they may have lifted cars,
but i lifted myself out of bed,
and it’s a thin connecting thread,

but it counts to me.

we might not walk through walls,
you might see us stumble and fall,
bend under the weight,
of the plate
that was given a bigger helping than we know what to do with.

We might not feel like that definition of strong.

but man, Mr. Incredible couldn’t be Spartan Strong if he tried.

"A letter to someone who doesn't deserve a name"

I saw your picture in the news,
But I barely remember a thing.

I really try not to.
And I am happiest to say that when I try to think of your name,
nothing comes to mind.

It makes me feel cruel,
but knowing that your eyes wouldn’t open again, were the only reason that mine were able to close for the night.

I think the most tears fell,
when I realized you weren’t even a student.

No reason could have justified the lives that were lost,
the damage you have caused.

But you didn’t even have an excuse.

I ran from you.
and it was the hardest decision I have ever made;
to decide what was safer.

If our self-made barricade,
the scissors in our fists,
and the metal cup meant for your head
would truly do anything.

or decide if running into the unknown,
without cover,
would in the end keep me the safest.

But I won’t run again.

I will let my green and white blood pump through me,
so that my pride filled heart
pushes out my ribs, and puffs my chest.

I will walk to class with my friend’s hand in mine.

Because you cannot take the home we built,
you have taken enough,
and you do not get more.

You may not know if you win this battle,
But I will.

So losing is not an option.

You do not get to be the reason I am scared of the dark again,
that my mind flashes back to a pitch black dorm.

You do not get to be the reason my little brothers fake sniffles,
and stomach aches,
because they believe that they are next.

You do not get to be the reason I never perform in The Union again.

I may cry,
when I am behind a microphone on that stage again.

I may cry when I hear sirens,
or I see that dorm room.

but I will still love.

I will love with all the life in me.
Because you couldn’t take it then,
So you will not take it now.

I will do what I can to erase you from my mind,
carry those we lost instead

Because you have taken enough.
You don’t get to have anything else.

"I Will Ask Later"

when I have the words.

I’ll have a lot of questions.

paste them on every wall,
the same way they are pasted onto my mind.

I will hand them out like chrysanthemums,
and pray someone gives something back.

“when you try so hard to make a home,
why is it so easy to take?”

“If sirens are meant to make me feel safe,
why am I shaking?”

I won’t raise my hand,
and ask my professor.

because before class I saw them looking up the answers too.

“how do you feel safe again?”

I might write them in a numbered list,
to bury in the still-cold dirt.

in the hopes that the universe will answer back.

“they say that monsters hide in the dark,
is that why I met my worst fears there?
does that mean it was only another nightmare?”

or yell out at the stars,
in case they will lend me their wisdom

“what kept me from being in the headline?”

when it’s easier to capture my words
and string them together,

i will toss them into the ocean and maybe reel up the answers

“Why does every feeling, feel so wrong?”

when I find my words again,
you will know,
because my voice will echo like the band in the stadium.

it will push the currents of the red cedar
and blow breeze through the trees.

until that roar,
be patient.

it will come,
I promise.

but for now all I can offer is a whisper:

“how do I know this won’t happen again?”

"Thank You Isn’t Enough"

i haven’t known most of my feelings lately.
even if i did,
i’m at a loss for how to convey them.

but it’s worth a shot, right?

to the man,
who rushed onto the campus without question,
and saved four girls who were not his own.
a thank you will never be enough.

to the little boy,
who drew tic tac toe on a napkin,
and made jokes,
to distract me.
who doesn’t give hugs,
but held me the tightest.
a thank you will never be enough.

to my mother, and grandmother,
who listened to me for hours upon hours,
as words spilled,
while i tried to untangle the mess of thread in my mind.
a thank you will never be enough.

to the one,
who stayed up all night with me,
and who is teaching me
that brave cries too
and brave can be afraid.
a thank you will never be enough.

to the people,
who had never met me, or my friends.
who traveled across the country,
to hold us
and make sure we knew we weren’t alone,
who’s words i will never forget.
a thank you will never be enough.

to everyone else who has sent texts,
or is fighting for change.
a thank you will not ever be enough

in a time of so much uncertainty,
nobody let us wonder if we were loved.

and so,
from the bottom of my heart,
please know how much i’d love to thank you.


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