Dispatches From Another Active Shooter Drill
When will America pay for what it did to my peers?
When you do it so many times, it feels like a game
Crammed against the wall, lights off
(perfect opportunity to jostle next to your crush,
because when you’re twelve, that’s what you think about)
when we’re packed in like that, we notice
someone smells, because we’re twelve
someone smells of fear, because we’re twelve
and this isn’t like elementary school, when
cramming in the closets or sheltering in the halls
was just a game.
The teacher can’t get us quiet, because we’re twelve
and nothing seems real, because we’re twelve
and we’ve learned what is real, and what is real is that
if shit hits the fan, this
One day when we were twelve the banging in the halls was real
(not a shooter, we later learned, just a desperate unarmed kid with a threat,
but tell that to the metal taste of fear in your mouth)
and teacher didn’t have to tell us to be quiet then.
A decade later, a different me is in a different school
but hears the same banging noise, and I’m twelve again,
not twenty-two, I thought if I taught
abroad, I could think of teaching only English,
not calculus with my students’ lives.
My students, not yet twelve,
are not yet afraid, and never will be in the same way,
one runs and opens the door before I can stop him,
it’s just the cleaner, arrived early to clean up middle-school stink in the halls,
I do not tell the class
why teacher’s knees are shaking.