I Hear America Shooting

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, May 7, 2014

I wrote this “faux” poem about 15 years ago. Some of the references are to events in the second Clinton administration. Sad to say, I could have written it today.

I Hear America Shooting

“I hear America singing…”
— Walt Whitman

I hear America shooting, the varied volleys I hear,
The blue-suited policeman firing at the mugger on the run who fires back over his shoulder with his semi-automatic pistol,
The hardy day-laborer and his neighbor shooting in the morning at each other’s dogs and in the evening at each other,
The postal worker cutting down his unsympathetic boss and co-workers,
The attorney grown unaccountably tired of public life putting the pearl-handled Colt to his head and on the broad shores of Potomac pulling the trigger,
The ninth-grade teacher shooting five or six colleagues at the last faculty meeting of the semester before Christmas vacation,
The ex-marine in the crowded airport taking target practice with his efficient machine gun,
And the sweet song of the armor-piercing bullet I hear as it hums toward the bullet-proof vest,
The rattle and whir of the Uzi feasting on ordinary people talking on street corners and waiting at bus stops,
The single crash and lingering echo of the shotgun drilling the head of the small girl through the open living room window of her family’s row house,
The drive-by shooting in the city and in the forest the firing of rifles at the frightened does and hunters fleeing among the tall trees,
The men and the women, the sons and the daughters, the weapons of small and large caliber, I hear them all,
In the work day, the school day, and late into the moonlit night at parties and gatherings, indoors and out, making the handsome crackle of gunfire,
I hear America shooting.

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime, Nathaniel Smith

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