In December of 2017 I was asked to write a response to a "Repeater" Poem by Alexandra Teague in the co-authored poems book Bullets into Bells (published by Beacon Press).
My response, directed at the closing sentence of Alexandra's "Repeater" reflective poem.
That sentence - That is the man the gun made.
I never thought that a gun made a man. I actually have very little experience with guns, and I was never a victim of gun violence as a young man. The most dangerous weapon of all was my education-a series of lessons about the human body and how to make it a weapon. Child abuse, physical abuse, verbal abouse. All the ways someone can use their body to impose their will on someone. That was my experience. I grew up believing that hurting people was power and respect. Whe I immersed myself in the street culture, I learned that the street societies live with a different set of rules, and those rules introduced me to the "power" of guns. That line of "education" made power worth more than my own sanity. A gun would lead to my greatest pain. My childhood protector, teenage role model, adult mentor, and eventually my grown up responsibility-my brother-was murdered. The gun made a man. A sad one, a broken one, a lost one, a forever empty one. That is the man a gun made.
That response, forced me to understand that the pain of gun violence is one that creates within us a new path that can never be closed but I also know now that it can be healed. It will remain a scar we feel and remember but it must never become the wound that remains open. Failure to work on healing will result in continued suffering.
If not internal suffering most certainly external. With the external we kill and destroy evrything in our path to help us mask our own pain. With the internal, we will find illness and substances that will eat us up from the inside.
So I had to make a different man.
Here I am.