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Where I take a walk into the night that approaches

Photography by Fatema Rahaman, staff poet and artist

Trigger warnings: violence, gun violence

Through the window, I peered. It is only a slight

second, mind you, but there is the family, laughing, and the

lit fireplace, smoldering. I am so far I feel home, the scent of

roasted chicken fresh off the spit, slightly burnt. Imagine Baccarat

Rouge perfume & pine. Imagine movement, the

violence on the television, mute, the reporter’s mouth

opening without sound. All I remember from history class is

that humans first waged war with their fists, clawing

open throats, picking out innards from between nails;

now the spit of gunfire is so loud your ears

ring hollow and your heart thumps stupidly against your ribcage

like a manatee. I’ll tell

you today’s breaking news: a dying man in time, bloodless.

Say humanity. Say violence. Gunshot. Flesh

wound. Say children. Say sorry.

It is another day waking into a body

bruised so many times I have lost count. America,

America, tell me this is not the beginning of the end, where

in this timeline, we feed on each other like blood-sucking

urchins before Halley’s Comet gets the honor of

ending us once and for all. America, it is my bad, I thought

this was supposed to be a different land. This is the time

to close your eyes, throw your head back and cry. Like how

in those black-in-white static films, the man on the screen would

be kneeling instead, the actor’s knees raw and pink from the

repeated cuts, the director says again, and the audience takes pity.

Let me take you back. The man is crying because

there is sadness lodged in his bones; he’s lost the one big love

of his life, but at least he still has the latter.

Tell me, are we wrong to ask for forgiveness?

Love has long lost its importance in this scheme of

things; the man remains oblivious in an older timeline. Perhaps

he is the lucky one; he is so full in the moment of heartbreak

he will not understand the blood-metal maw the winter

sky has now become. He does not realize who the next man

on the screen will be—it is for the best. Forgive me, I had

only thought we could be better. The winter has

barely seeped by and my heart is cold, brittle enough

to break and devour in pieces. The world

has never been so lonely. But now, look at how

beautiful the family is, take their laughter with you while you

still can. We can string the last sounds of joy above

the telephone wires overhead like the sizzling flesh of birds,

our breath like nightingales. And

meanwhile, I’ll hold you close, so close, my ribs will

stop the next spray of bullets, and I swear,

I swear, and our heartbeats will slow into one.

Artist Statement: 

This piece was written on weapons of mass destruction, with a focus on firearms policy in the United States. I have to admit that I am not particularly political, though I have recently been making efforts to comprehend the current state of the world. However, if I had to choose a social issue I would wish to call the most attention to, it would be the unmandated use of armed weapons leading to an alarming prevalence of gun violence. While I have not known anyone close to me who has been immediately affected by the consequences of gun violence (I really am so thankful), the constant fear of the situation we live in has, I believe, brought our nation to its knees. The purpose of this piece is to address the emotional nature of the issue surrounding firearms policy and encourage the urgent need for thoughtful consideration and political reform. It is my hope that the audience may be compelled to reflect on the gravity of the situation and the imperative for collective action in addressing the challenges posed by the unmandated use of firearms.

Calls to Action: 

If you wish to learn more about this issue, two links I’ve included are attached below: 

To gain insight into the effects of gun violence in America, (this is in statistics) visit this link: 

If you wish to take action against current firearm policy or to learn more simply, visit this link: 

Author’s Bio: 

Michelle Li lives in TX and loves writing. She has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing, The Waltham Forest Poetry Competition, The Rising Voices Awards, published or forthcoming in Blue Marble, Idle Ink, and Masque and Spectacle, among others. You can also find her on the board of Pen and Quills magazine and The Malu Zine. She also loves reading—she’ll read practically anything she can get her hands on, the more absurd and emotional the work, the better, and plays both violin and piano. Lastly, she has an unhealthy obsession with cheese, morally grey characters, and Sylvia Plath.

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