This poem was written written to sort through the experience of a student shooting a gun at my daughter's high school. The community and school district's response was incredible and heartfelt and I will be forever grateful everyone was safe. The event has sparked many an amazing conversation about how to best care for all of the kids in our midst, especially those who are hurting enough to want to take the lives of others or their own.
You Can Sit With Us
My daughter attends a high school,
where recently a freshman fired a gun in the cafeteria.
Luckily, the kid alone wanted to die,
so he aimed into the air instead of at students,
within range all around him.
He was hoping a police officer would respond
and take his life..
On the same campus,
every Tuesday my girl attends a LGBTQ+ pizza klatch,
where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered
queer and plus (those who don’t fit into that
acronym like asexual, pansexual, etc...) teens
and supporters share about their lives,
practice how to sister and brother.
She and some of us are wondering
how do we care for the others?
When I was a kid,
I read the Peanuts cartoons in the newspaper,
I always loved when a character named Lucy
sat in a lemonade-like stand
with the words, “Psychiatrist Help, the Doctor is In.”
I don’t recall what kind of advice she doled out-
Lucy was a badass, she complained and was bossy.
But the image has stayed with me all these years,
one of the few places in my childhood
it was acknowledged we might need help.
I want one on every street corner,
“the healer is in. the teacher is in.
the friend is in. the listener is in.”
Instead of popularity pods,
I want school lunch tables
to be arranged by alphabet
or height, your number of siblings,
if your parents attend AA or not,
a third table if you have parents that should.
At work, let’s pass out blindfolds
and mix up the cubicles.
Let’s have a day where you we start
with “I hope...”
the next day with, “My wish for you...”
In the aftermath of the shooting,
there were rumors of retaliation,
a few kids wore “Team Justin” armbands
and talked of “finishing the job.”
My wish for you, Team Justin,
is that you go home tonight
and your mom has cooked your favorite meal
because she senses you have been down,
she was inspired when a stranger held open
the door at the grocery store,
the stranger had earlier received a call from an old friend,
who had volunteered dropping off meals for a shut-in,
who had told him a good joke that made him chuckle.
Which the shut-in gathered from the internet,
not while learning how to build bombs
or sneak weapons into public places,
not watching the grown up equivalent of
the movie Mean Girls where
the elitist and entitled wore shirts, “You can’t sit with us.”
It is virtual and viral now,
we’ve got the whole world at our table.
What are we serving,
how can we find each of us deserving?
In this planetary klatch and coven,
the only question is are we catching one another,
are we loving?
You can sit with us.
And cry and moan and whimper with us.
You can die a little and be born a little
and sigh and rage and
not be alone with us.