This Post Is Anonymous


Never free
Never me
So I dub thee Unforgiven

– Metallica

It is not I who writes these words; we write in my place.
I am Locutus of Earth.
Resistance is futile.

I speak with violence,
for violence;
with peace, for peace.
I speak as one for all
and all speak through me.

I am the sound of bullets;
I am the echoes of screams.
I am silence in place of speech
when speech is not enough.
I am the planet; I am the stars;
I am faces laced with scars
of battles fought and yet unfought.

More than words, I am
a Thought:

smile amidst ashes,
rainbow in storm.
I am the cold keeping you warm.

Open hand in place of a fist,
touching the faces of you who exist
apart and within
once and again…

I am the hope at the heart of despair.

No one and everyone–
that is my name.
A world’s worth of hearbeats
in one living flame

One ray of starlight
pierces the Night
One drop of saltwater,
silent, takes flight

Wish what we may
wish what we might–
humanity strapped to the string of a kite
caught in the wind, embracing the breeze–
We are the blossom born of the freeze

and the future holds whatever we please


Second-Hand Bullets

Pinkas-boy-gunso doctor doctor won’t you please prescribe me somethin
a day in the life of someone else
Cuz I’m a hazard to myself

– Pink

Let’s talk about cigarettes.

If you want to slowly flood your system with toxic substances and increase your chances of chronic and/or terminal illness, that is your right. In any case, I can’t really point too many fingers. We all have our poisons of choice. I’m well on my way to a Doritos-related heart attack. But, then, I’m not force-feeding you corn chips on buses and airplanes, or in hotels and restaurants, either. There’s no such thing as second-hand cholesterol.

Therein lies the difference between my poison and yours. Mine is mine; yours is everybody’s. Su carcinogen es mi carcinogen…whether I like it or not.

Guns used to be like Doritos. Outside of violent crime, gun-related deaths were restricted to the home, or at the very least involved only those who chose to own a firearm. While I find all such incidents regrettable, at least they could truly be attributed to the consequences of personal choice. But this is no longer the case (most recently in my home state of Texas). Now, guns are becoming cigarettes.

Except for one thing: in the case of cigarettes, we have moved away from public harm toward public safety. We have chosen to respect the personal choice of those who choose not to smoke. We have restricted the spaces in which smokers may partake of their habit, in order to limit the involuntary exposure of non-smokers. To a large extent, buses, airplanes, hotels, and restaurants no longer present a problem. Because, while we respect your right to poison yourself, we also respect the right of others not to be poisoned by you.

Let’s look at a similar issue: drunk driving. From the standpoint of absolute freedom of choice, an argument might be advanced that an individual ought to be free to do so if she chooses. It’s no one’s business but her own if she knowingly acts in a way that endangers her life. Except it’s not just her life that’s endangered, is it? In this case, her right to act is counterbalanced by others’ right not to be acted upon. So we legislate against drunk driving. This doesn’t by any means ensure that no one will do it, but it does put into place a legal structure whereby we might be able to mitigate a great deal of the risk. We see a danger, and we act to curb it to the best of our ability.

In the case of guns and gun safety, though, we are actually moving in the opposite direction. The Texas legislature just passed an open carry bill (HB910), and Gov. Abbott signed it into law on June 13, at a gun range, of course. This bill, which takes effect on January 1, 2016, will allow licensed carriers to carry their firearms openly in a belt or shoulder holster. OK Corral, anyone? To make matters worse, they have also passed a campus carry bill (SB11), which at its fullest strength would allow students 21 years of age and older to carry their firearms in dorms, classrooms, and campus buildings. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, one may protest: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” But, then, that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s people who decide whether or not to pull the trigger, and so, it’s people who make guns dangerous. And people are notoriously prone to panic-induced chaos. There’s a reason you’re not supposed to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. And, given the ridiculous amount of mass shootings that have taken place around the U.S. in the last few years, we’re all primed to hear the first shot. Which makes it unwise to equip Tom, Dick, or Harry (or me, in case you care to accuse me of elitism) to take the second.

I was recently taken to task by someone who pointed out that if 21-year-olds are responsible enough to vote, join the military, etc., etc., etc., then they are also responsible enough to carry a gun onto their college campus. Setting aside the age of last week’s Charleston shooter (which was 21, if you’re wondering), this is hardly the point. It’s not just about the people with the guns; it’s the message(s) they’re sending.

The last thing we need is for a new generation to grow up under the impression that guns are cool. Back to cigarettes: one of the constant refrains of the anti-smoking campaign has been “Don’t smoke in front of your children, because they tend to do as you do, not as you say.” And then there’s the effort to convince teenagers that smoking “ain’t cool.” But guns are a fashion accessory.

There is also the minor issue of conflict resolution strategies. Do we not understand that these laws, and their “personal safety” justifications, perpetuate the idea that the solution to potential violence is more potential violence? That the only palliative to our lack of social consciousness is less social consciousness, and more social belligerence? Forget “these are your lungs on tobacco”; your brain on bullets…is dead.

Just as there are people who choose not to smoke or be associated with tobacco in any way, there are those of us who choose to neither own nor be associated with guns. In fairness, smokers are generally fairly conscientious when it comes to following the rules: there was grumbling at first, I’m sure, when the limiting trend began, but by and large, they are a respectful lot. Baylor, for instance, joined the ranks of smoke-free campuses at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, and the transition went largely without a hitch. Meanwhile, the gun lobby seems to be going out of its way to force the rest of us into the firing line.

Imagine the gall of suggesting that law enforcement officers be free to ask open carriers for proof of license! Since all 21-year-olds have their age pinned to their foreheads, what could be the use of so overbearing a measure? By all means, ID kids trying to buy tobacco or alcohol, but how dare you infringe upon their rights by asking for legal paperwork on the deadly weapon strapped to their hip? Now, everyone’s up in arms because of possible signage restricting open (or concealed) carry in businesses: in Texas, über-respect for the businessman apparently ends when they tell you to leave your toys outside.

If you, in your hubris, want to channel Cary Grant or John Wayne, then for the love of God, do it in the privacy of your own home and leave the rest of us out of it. If you’re going to be an ass, then at least make sure it’s only your ass that’s on the line.

‘Cause second-hand bullets are real.

Too Soon?


Have I said
too much? The rush
to judgment withheld;
the Gavel never fell; and I…

I, one eye on hell and
one on heaven, and even then
schizophrenic: where to look? what
to see? Only me

and my shadow (that’s
You). A shoe that drops
is a shoe somebody threw
into whatever stew is boiling
to say it never happened…

my plate away




(In the aftermath of Charleston)

To each bullet a heart,
One voice,
One drop of blood yet
unspilled by hate not fate–
But wait!

They say the day stole away
with Life.
They lie! To try but fail
fail to try? Tell me why or why
Not. And while we rot, our thoughts go
out to all and sundry,
a laundry-list of new neglect.
Who selects the few that do?
The few that don’t? A brazen trumpet
sounds the note: The sun has set;

we have not yet

War Zone

These streets, they’re calling me;
They follow me
Everywhere. It’s in the air.
Can’t grow for shrinking;
Pounding the pavement
As a hymn of bereavement.

Deal to steal
a little of the life I’m not feeling.
Transparency and currency don’t mix.
Can’t fix me if I break you first.
Do your worst; can’t feel the hurt

I’m a soldier in the trenches,
Barricades made of park benches
For back-alley battles. There is no
Surrender, ’cause I can’t just retreat. I
Dance to the beat of lock, load,

There is no DMZ for me.

-Dedicated to the memory of Keenan Hubert (1990-2011)

Tilting at Windmills

Since the school shooting in Connecticut last Friday, I’ve been struggling to express the thoughts and feelings sprinting around inside my head. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get them out in some way other than a simple, primal scream. Of horror; of despair; of desperation; of anger; of pretty much any heightened emotion a person could name. I’m torn between calling down curses on the NRA, mocking the ill-timed piety of the “don’t-worry-God-is-still-in-control” Facebook crowd, and crawling into a hole to die. However you look at it, I’m messed up. More than I remember being by this sort of thing in the past. And it’s not, sadly, like there’s no point of reference for that observation…

I don’t know why. I don’t have children of my own, so I can neither share nor really even understand that particular brand of suffering. It’s a bit late to claim a crisis of faith, so I can’t blame my reaction on the infamous “existential dilemma.” I’ve never, nor has anyone in my family ever, been threatened with gun violence (or really any kind of violence), so it’s not like I’ve got any post-traumatic skeletons in my closet. I really can’t explain it.

Maybe it’s that the last great gun massacre, the Dark Knight tragedy in Colorado, is only a few short months in the rearview. Maybe it’s the fact that the terrifying novelty of a Columbine or a Jonesboro has given way to an almost apathetic resignation–a non-reaction, if you will. We’ve been desensitized by senseless violence. We barely even register surprise anymore when these headlines jump from the nightly newscast. They used to frighten us, shock us; now, we bat an eyelid (maybe) and go back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Maybe it’s the complete refusal to acknowledge that we’ve got a problem on our hands (and in our hands). I’ve seen so much denial in the past four days that I can barely remember what recognition looks like. Maybe it’s the self-righteousness with which many have insisted that now’s not the time to talk about it. Too soon. Tell that to the newly diagnosed cancer patient. “It’s too soon to talk about treatment options. We’ll revisit the issue in a few weeks, when things have calmed down…”

Maybe it’s that gun violence seems to be the only instance in life in which the proposed solution to a problem is more of the problem. We don’t fight termites by releasing more termites into our walls. We don’t deal with drunk driving by putting more drunks behind the wheel in the hopes they’ll all take each other out. But guns? How do we solve the problem of gun violence? MORE GUNS.

Of course, that solution makes perfect sense, because, after all, “guns aren’t the problem.” And if “guns aren’t the problem,” then by golly, they must be the solution. So don’t disarm the bad guy. Instead, arm everybody else. ‘Cause friendly fire never killed anyone…

Now, I understand that trying to stem the tide of gun violence by legislating against firearms is the rough equivalent of attempting to eliminate drunk driving by banning cars. I also understand that, for a gun to kill someone, someone has to use it. Moreover, it’s hard to argue with the whole “laws don’t stop criminals” thing–it’s kind of their stock in trade. There is an extent to which all preventative measures in the case of gun violence will have to be reactive, not proactive. None of this, however, means we should just drop the subject, bury our heads in the sand, and insist that the 2nd Amendment trumps all.

(It is, by the way, possible to uphold the 2nd Amendment without believing folks should be able to go duck hunting with rocket launchers.)

We can insist that guns aren’t the problem until we’re blue in the face. We may actually be right; in fact, we probably are. But knowing what the problem isn’t gets us no closer to solving the problem, and since all other discussion seems to have been taken off the table, who knows if we ever will. If guns are not the problem, what is the problem?

Could it be that our motto has become: You can’t hurt me if I hurt you first? Fortune favors the fastest? I don’t care what happens to anyone else in the room as long as nothing happens to me? We can’t beat it, so we might as well join it?

This is a volatile subject, and it must be handled with care (much like the shotgun out in the garage). But we have to admit that, ultimately, WE are the problem, at least insofar as we stand in the way of a solution. WE are the problem, in that we place so high a value on our own freedoms that we’re willing to place price-tags on other people’s heads.

The heart of democracy ISN’T being able to do whatever we want; the heart of democracy is being free to do whatever we want…and choosing not to, for the good of others. Until we realize that little nugget of wisdom, we won’t be solving anything anytime soon.

And we’ll be writing stuff like this about things like this. Over and over again…