America Is Not Bulletproof
America is not bulletproof. We may be rich
We may be haughty, and powerful, and strong
But if we think that makes us bulletproof, then that—
That is where we’ve gone wrong.
On our very own streets—the deafening crunch of guns putting bullets through skulls
Ripping through love and hate and sadness and sanity
Tearing apart hearts and homes,
Killing innocent people—and with them, the last of our humanity.
We live in a bloody democracy, one where the people don’t rule
And where money does. We need gun laws, you say
But our so-called leaders erase your pleas like ink splotches over the constitution,
Or blood splotches, which run faster than ink these days.
I should not be burrowing into my bed at night
Hiding myself under my covers
As though these thin sheets of fabric will protect me from a bullet
Meant for not my skull, but another’s.
Kids should not be losing their lives as a result
Of old white men who love ‘the hunt’
The hunt of animals, not men—
But in this world, the only hunt left is of men.
We spend so much time fearing these bulleted dots
These reasons to hide from their promise of death—that we neglect them
We’ve failed to realize the power of these dots
We’ve failed to connect them.
Bulletproof glass and bulletproof vests do not equal bulletproof lives
Our lives are precious, precious enough to protect
But so short that they should be spent living, rather than
Spending our days dodging the bullets we’re forced to deflect.
You say you want your rifles, but do you also want the blood
Of the thousands, millions of lives that were ended
By guns and ideologies as sharp and dangerous as your own,
Do you want this blood on your hands as the real price for the violent seeds you’ve sown?
It seems there’s no escape from this,
This never-ending cycle of hate, and fear, and death
Holding us hostage, beating in our bones and our hearts
This captivity that’s not quite gone until–bang!–we take our very last breath.
Wake up, America. The second amendment is from over two centuries ago
If laws had expiration dates, this one would be rotten
Thrown out and disregarded, just like all those expired, unbulletproof bodies
Piling up in your offices and your minds, discreetly forgotten.
Your empty promises aren’t enough this time, mr. “president”
Because some of us don’t have security details watching our backs
This time, we refuse to be distracted by your pointless deflections
And this time, you won’t be able to cover your bloody tracks.
The pain of thousands of mothers and fathers whose families are torn apart, America.
The millions of innocent souls whose last breath is one of betrayal, America.
The racist, sexist, fascist, extremist haters who shoot their way between us, America.
It’s time to take back what was never theirs—our safety, our freedom, our equality—it’s time to take back America.
Charlotte Papacosma is a tenth grader in Arlington, Virginia who loves writing, photography, and lacrosse. She is passionate about activism, and often uses poetry to express her opinions creatively. Charlotte has been writing since the beginning of elementary school, and is using her time in quarantine to write some more!
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