America, what will we learn?

Young Writers Project Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang, Burlington, VT

9:50 p.m.
 a starlit city on the
 dawn of October,
 burned red with bar signs
 and stop lights.
 On this night in Sin City
 steam rose from the
 floor of the concrete jungle.
 Predators prowled, prey lurked.
 Metal vines swung from construction sites,
 sun and moon peered between buildings to cast
 light on the animals on the street.
 The air was aromatic
 and unapologetic
 in the wake of
 Spilled beer, cigarette smoke,
 and the stench of sweat wafted
 from underneath
 sewage grates and
 into the noses of passersby,
 residing in the back of their
 Fear was absent.
 No one feasted their noses on
 that metallic stink of blood.
 To me it always smelled like cheap rings
 that turned my fingers green.
 Fear didn’t become the husks of civilians
 and peel off like snake skin
 or flake off like scales,
 it didn’t envelope them in a yellow
 cocoon and restrain them,
 fear hid behind corners and in alleyways
 on the night of
 Sunday October 1st,
 and waited to pounce.
 9:59 p.m.
 It’s strange, how much gunshots sound
 like the shutter of a camera
 or the spark of fireworks.
 Maybe as the water began to run
 red and the silence began to break
 with the sound of gunfire
 people thought they were hearing
 fireworks in the sky above.
 Maybe they looked up to find only the stagnant
 water of the blue night.
 Maybe they saw the man playing God from
 a 32nd floor window.
 Maybe that is the last thing they saw.
 Terror has taken on an entirely different meaning.
 Terror is unprecedented death.
 Terror is blood spilled in the name of fear.
 Terror is the 23 guns
 legally purchased in America
 that took the lives of Americans.
 Terror is the white man across the street
 who no one thinks would ever harm a soul,
 and then he kills 58 people.
 58 bodies were carried out of Las Vegas
 on October 1st.
 58 people who were brave enough
 to lead their lives in a world where
 standing in a crowd is a risk.
 58 people are dead.
 And what have we learned?
 Not to stand in a crowd
 and not to forget that death
 is imminent at all times.
 When will we start teaching our
 youth not to pull the trigger
 instead of how to avoid becoming
 the target of a gun?
 what will we learn from Vegas?
 What will you learn from the 58
 bodies in the ground?
 When will you learn?

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