Thursday, March 25, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

In my search for a poem to share today, I couldn't stop thinking about the grocery store shooting in Boulder where ten people were killed on Monday. Ryan and I have talked every day since it happened, as my sweet, pacifist, lonely-because-of-covid son is now even more fearful of going to the grocery store. He's about an hour away from where this happened, and King Soopers is where he does his grocery shopping. Both Ryan and CO governor Jared Polis said “Never ever does it cross your mind that that trip to the grocery store could be your last moments on earth." Except that the danger has been there for years, whether we recognize it or not. You can be shot if you're Black, Asian, asleep in bed, watching a movie, or simply attending school, so grocery stores are not exempt. I simply didn't have the heart to say to Ryan that gun violence is always close.

Boy Shooting at a Statue by Billy Collins

It was late afternoon,

the beginning of winter, a light snow,

and I was the only one in the small park

to witness the lone boy running

in circles around the base of a bronze statue.

I could not read the carved name

of the statesman who loomed above,

one hand on his cold hip,

but as the boy ran, head down

he would point a finger at the statue

and pull an imaginary trigger

imitating the sounds of rapid gunfire.

Evening thickened, the mercury sank,

but the boy kept running in the circle

of his footprints in the snow

shooting blindly into the air.

History will never find a way to end,

I thought, as I left the park by the north gate

and walked slowly home

returning to the station of my desk

where the sheets of paper I wrote on

were like pieces of glass

through which I could see

hundreds of dark birds circling in the sky below.

Collins, Billy. "Boy Shooting at a Statue". Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, Beacon Press, 2017.


From raising two sons, I know that pretend gun play may be part and parcel of being male. Justin once chewed his toast into the shape of a gun, and he used a banana when we took away a toy gun because he was pointing it at his brother. John and I taught them both that you never, ever point a gun at a person, and I wish that was a lesson that everyone could learn.

We all offer up thoughts and prayers, but we also know they are not going to solve anything. Joe Biden has called for a ban on assault rifles and improved background checks, but Congress has not been up to that massive task before. Here are some possible ways to take action:


I wish you mindfulness, good health, peace, freedom from gun violence, and poetry as the week winds down.


  1. Thank you. I just have no other words for this right now.

  2. Poetry is a balm for our wounded souls... I am just so astoundingly angry that something supported by 90% of the citizens here (expanded background checks) is something that every elected member of congress can't get behind. (and I had 2 girls and a boy and there were weapons and "shooting" in my house too... sigh.)

  3. I honestly will never understand the cult of guns. I know there are people who use them to hunt for food, and I know that sometimes they are needed in defense, but what possible use is an assault weapon? Why is it harder to vote or get a driver's license than to get a gun? Every time there is a mass shooting, I think, This time it will be too much senseless loss and people will change their minds. But after Sandy Hook, honestly I don't think anything will change some people's minds.

  4. I hate to tell you this but girls do "gun play" too. Learning that people are valuable and shooting at living things is not good is more important than banning "gun play." Banning assault weapons is a great thing. Children's play is an opportunity for learning, not for banning.

    1. I don't have any experience with girls, but I was surprised at the extent that my sons would go to to craft pretend guns. The loss is so senseless and so big that I truly do wish we could ban assault weapons.

  5. Thank you, Bonny. I so appreciate your thoughtful approach to this very disturbing topic. My own son used to live just blocks from that very King Soopers. He shopped there. But . . . we all shop somewhere. And, sadly, this could happen anywhere, anytime in our country. Billy Collins, as he does, brings just the right words for what we feel. XO

  6. This has been a rough week for sure. That King Sooper is where my brother and his family shop. Thankfully they are all ok, but one of the victims is/was a friend/acquaintance of my SIL. Just senseless and very frightening.

  7. What a thoughtful post, Bonny. Much needed, I think. We have banned assault weapons before, and I say before in reference to the NRA and their very effective propaganda campaign. It seems that our "representatives" don't actually represent us anymore, and I think people should be enraged by that, but most of them aren't paying any attention to the fact that money has totally taken over politics. And they don't try to be informed about facts rather than propaganda. It is very daunting. I hope Ryan will find that he feels safer with time. It is necessary illusion. I don't grocery shop anymore. I just order online and pick it up, but I miss browsing around in a store like I did before the pandemic.

  8. Astounding that our country is the poster child for gun violence. And that our government just won't do anything about it. Someone else was just apprehended this morning I saw with a boat load of guns - thank God they were caught. xoxo

  9. Perfect words for these trying, so terrible times. Peace for Ryan, his dad and brother, you and all of us.

  10. This is a lovely post, Bonny, thank you. I was heartened to see that Georgia's Legislature is moving to enact a 5-day waiting period for the purchase of handgun(?) ... TBD if it will get passed, or signed, but still. it seems like a hopeful step.

  11. thank you for the poem share. Because of you, I get a poem a day sent to my inbox by the poetry foundation, I love it. This week was a sad week.

  12. I to had boys that I tried to teach to be cautious when playing, still there were nerf guns at our house, but nothing that looked real. It is yet another horrible gun tragedy in our country. I will send positive thoughts to your son as he is so near where this horrible event happened.

  13. What an awful week - again. I have read some thoughtful oped's about gun regulations. What we need is government will and legislation. I'm holding a good thought for Ryan and all of you.


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