Aiken Poet Laureate Joan Lacombe spent many years in the classroom before retiring to become a poet. As a co- founder of the Aiken Poets and Aiken's first Poet Laureate she offer writes a poem that speaks to the event of the moment and forwards to us. The event that transpire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. required an interesting response from Joan. We want to share it to remind everyone that as we grieve, things do not change. Thanks Joan for bring it to us so beautifully with your poetry!
Author's Note: There have been at least 270 school shootings in the United States since 20 first-graders and six adults were gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. That's about one every week. The human toll: over 400 shot and 120 killed, an untold number traumatized. There were 17 other school shootings so far in 2018--and it is only February!)
An American Tragedy
(In the 21st Century)
Parents send their students schoolward bound
Expecting them to return safe and sound.
Now their lives snuffed out like a candle in the wind.
Violence descending on them like a savage thunderstorm
Unexpected and determined to do damage.
Lives snatched in their prime
Brutally denied their gift of time.
Young smiling faces flash across the TV screen
No chance of ever fulfilling their dreams.
Parents now sit at home sad and forlorn
Painfully alone, a lifetime to mourn.
Contemplating a hurt that will never mend.
Valentine's Day, a day dedicated to love, caring, and sharing
Violently marred by a random school shooting.
School hallways strewn with the shards of broken hearts
Lives once filled with expectation
Now claimed by shocking devastation
Those who survived, their lives forever changed.
Parents, teachers, students united in painful memory
Of young lives taken needlessly, unexpectedly and savagely,
Lives shattered, dreams scattered
A Valentine BLOOD RED
Scores injured, SEVENTEEN DEAD.
We are not just the town of Parkland or the state of Florida--
But an entire nation of heavy hearts
Hoping that something will be done
That this violence must cease.
Our vow to solve the situation ranges from
“Never Again” – until the “Next Time.”
An American Tragedy.
©Joan M. Lacombe
Aiken's Poet Laureate
February 14, 2018
Author's Note: This is something I wrote almost six years ago after 20 first-graders and six adults were gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. and another shooting in Florida..It was published in The Aiken Standard as a Letter to the Editor soon afterward.
You send your child to school
Where sanity and civility should rule.
You entrust your child to the care of others,
Principals, teachers, sisters and brothers.
You never consider the child’s life in danger
From the wanton acts of a stranger.
But unnoticed dangers stalk us daily,
We must be on guard, watching ably.
For the spark of violence that comes unforseen,
To wipe the slate of life ever so clean.
I weep for the children whose lives have been lost,
Dreams and plans for the future tossed.
For those who survive, life is a torment,
Thoughts of what could have been forever dormant.
Memories, all we have left,
Friends and Parents–their lives bereft.
Whoever would think teaching was a hazardous occupation,
Keeping students safe their primary obligation.
O, God, protect our children--
Make safety a requirement
of a peaceful learning environment.
©–Joan M. Lacombe
March 6, 2012
(After hearing about another shooting in a Florida school)
Sadly as I type I know we will need to save space for your next poem here Joan
Posted by Lucinda Clark-Founder
Poetry Matters Project.