This dark where we live seems barbaric to me;

Gun-shots that ring in the night;

I see them; I hear them, and try to forget.

But my heart is still shocked by the fright.


How long will it linger, – this cancerous sport?

How long will our congressmen let it?

How long will my fellowmen hide from the sound?

How long before conscience does beckon?


We lock our car doors to keep young boys from theft,

Yet we place a gun in their hand.

The whistle of the wind whispers killing is near,

And murder resounds through the land.


Our senators sit there – talk, talk, talk, talk!

Yet the shame does not only lie there.

I walk in the sunlight and hear only shots

Because of the burden I bear.


When will we learn that a bullet does harm?

When will we take them away?

How can we face ourselves, face all our kin?

The clouds laugh and taunt me;

“Why don’t you begin?”


Days move to weeks, on to months, then to years.

Out of the silence, a deluge of tears;

Families of those stricken down in their prime;

How can their sorrow still fall on deaf ears?


I wrote this poem 59 years ago after President Kennedy was assassinated.

After every mass murder, my poem becomes more relevant.



image: “The Robbery” by gfairchild is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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