Another horrific shooting on another college campus. 10 dead and 7 more injured. The shooter is among the dead, leaving a nation with never-to-be-answered questions as to why. President Obama grimly commented on this most recent tragedy with concern and frustration:
“[A]s I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from inflicted someplace else in America…The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun safety laws, even in the face of repeated mass killings.”
Award winning poet Bob Hicok taught creative writing at Virginia Tech, the site of an an earlier massacre by a crazed gunman in 2008. In his book “Words for Empty, Words for Full”, he wrote about this tragic shooting, which is the subject of his poem below.
In the Loop
I heard from people after the shootings. People
I knew well or barely or not at all. Largely
the same message: how horrible it was, how little
there was to say about how horrible it was.
People wrote, called, mostly e-mailed
because they know I teach at Virginia Tech,
to say, there’s nothing to say. Eventually
I answered these messages: there’s nothing
to say back except of course there’s nothing
to say, thank you for your willingness
to say it. Because this was about nothing.
A boy who felt that he was nothing,
who erased and entered that erasure, and guns
that are good for nothing, and talk of guns
that is good for nothing, and spring
that is good for flowers, and Jesus for some,
and scotch for others, and “and” for me
in this poem, “and” that is good
for sewing the minutes together, which otherwise
go about going away, bereft of us and us
of them. Like a scarf left on a train and nothing
like a scarf left on a train. As if the train,
empty of everything but a scarf, still opens
its doors at every stop, because this
is what a train does, this is what a man does
with his hand on a lever, because otherwise,
why the lever, why the hand, and then it was over,
and then it had just begun.