What the Gun Done Done: U. Penn.
University of Pennsylvania
January 22, 2013: 6 p.m.
There must be some other way to speak of things, to cause them to lean to one side or evaporate entirely, as I can remember, as a small child, hearing another, another Voice yell out, after hearing a bullet ricochet through the atmospheric pressure of the earth: Look!, it said, Look at what the gun done done!
And when I heard of the deaths, the deaths of the children, I began to subtract my own age from the youngest, 39-5, and had come to realize that I had lived 34 more years, and I had begun to think, too, what I had done with it: I had been floating in the matter of an umbilical cord and had come through my mother’s belly, wet and cold and searching through a sphere of light for all things that had been unfamiliar to me. I cannot remember quite so well what I was doing at age 5, I do remember my first day in Kindergarten and clinging to my mother’s thigh and hearing the voice of Mrs. Cornist while standing in the mouth of the square-shaped door.
I can remember, however, that throughout that time, there was such an innocence, such an absorption of people, of shapes, of patterns that I cannot imagine having seen, for the first time, a gun in my face. But I had seen them, born unto hunters and gatherers who hunted and gathered and fixed upon their own eyes a stairwell of death and animals thrown into some wooden dungeon of suffering. I can remember people, and with the deaths of the children, I cannot imagine having been exposed, in the split of a second, to such a gruesome and auditory happening, as if the world and everything in it had come crashing down.
What silence was broken. What innocence. And so that I have begun to think of the rest of my life in the subtraction of their own and the addition of those who were older and were victimized by what the gun done done.
I find myself wanting to address it, the gun itself, asking what has the gun done done? You, the gun, you have split a jawbone, perched yourself in a brain, become lodged in a throat, you have silenced children, animals, people, and have found yourself amidst some sort of popular fixation, and for what? Because you intimidate, threaten, harm, kill? Because you are here in the throes of the world and all therein with your intimidation, your threats, your harm and kill. You are here and we cannot get rid of you now. But oh, I wish we could. I wish you, dear gun, would vanish. Evaporate, sprout invisibly underground where a flower would grow out of your….I wish, dear gun, that you would simply die.
Why at all you were ever invented? Why are you here? Why won’t you do something for a change? Like rust. Like sit out in the rain and melt like the effects of a beast weeping in winter. Why won’t you die, why can’t you the be one that dies this time? I wish, right now, I could close my eyes and take it upon myself to wish a grand thing, that I could open them again and you, that lives in all the houses and on the streets and in the alleys and the cities and the towns and under pillows and in the hands of the wrong cops and in pockets and trench coats and museums and mattresses, I wish that I could open them again and witness your vanishing, your, your, your very own….so is that what you think? the gun would say, that I am the cause of all this? Is that what you think?
Oh, dear sister, it is not…I am not the one…there is a finger and there is a finger that pulls a trigger and there is a brain and there is a brain that pulls a trigger and I want you to close your eyes or leave them open, it is no consequence to me, yes, leave them open and look at that brain that holds the gun, that brain with all its grand ideas, its notion, its behaviors, its conditioning, its psychotic response, its debilitating and malicious reasoning…hm, malicious reasoning, oxymoronic isn’t it?…for I cannot reason with you if you think that I am the cause of all this. Look at your towns, your houses, your streets, your alleys, your cities. Search under your pillows and into those pockets and trench coats and museums and mattresses. Look at your country, its senators, its congress, its its its, Look, Look at your brain and swing from that umbilical cord if you want to, swing from it, and split that brain wide open and tell me that I am the fault of all this.
You are so silly. Don’t you know that all I can do is lie and sit? Of all you’ve mentioned with your streets and pillows and alleys, I am sitting or lying in state, resting upon some bridge or in a warm and hot hand. I am the one who is being used here, sister. Perhaps, you do, perhaps you wish my birth had not been so, that I had died or never come to, but I did not and in your little….look at what the gun done done…you sound so silly. You never asked me how I feel, is it possible to be metallic and have any sense of pride at all?
Yes, it is possible, I have swung from the hands of metallic people, little robots, and if anyone had seen death, it has been the gun, it has been the gun, I, me, it, the gun, I have seen it first, before all sees it, I have seen it, and I have wept and I have burned after having been fired into a crowd. I have cringed at the thought of being held. Can you imagine having been brought into the world, first an idea and then an episode of…first an idea and then a witness, first and idea and then that burning fire in my hot and bloated lungs of uncontrollable murder.
What you have seen, I have seen first. Yet, I cannot speak for you. I cannot speak for your streets and alleys and senators. I cannot speak for your congress. Your trench coats. Your cops. Your museums. Your mattresses. I can only tell you that I am sick of it. I am sick of this.
I am sick of it. I did not ask to come here, but it is too late isn’t it? To ill exist? To burst into flames? It is too late. And I, too, have mourned my own mourning. I, too, am tired of having witnessed it. So why don’t you, dear ones, change your laws, take that shovel and bury me so that a flower grows out of my nose. Why don’t you march? Protest? Communicate about what it is one should do with me. For I would rather die here, be buried here, than suffer any longer the events of this mountainous tide, this suffocation and regret, this series of ill-fated events, this eternal flame and fire that seems to burn and halt not in the feverish echo of chaos that seems to burn in my throat the startling reminder of what I have become.
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- 01/25/2013 / 11:20 am