Out of respect for the children
let us not speak of gun control.
Let us grieve in silent outrage
lest one of those small figures
carrying memories of fearful
moments, cupboard cuddled,
waiting with a teacher for an
end to either deadly shootings
or themselves think this horror
might have been averted
had we all been willing, even once
to dream beyond heroic violence
to the far more challenging, more
courageous, more inspiring vision
of heroic peace.
Out of respect for the victims
let us not speak of mental health
but rather, soothe the conscience
of a country with simplistic categories,
good guys, bad guys, innocent and
guilty, lest we lose to shades of gray
our certainty that a culture closed
to those who most need help,
who least are able to afford much-
needed meds, who cry and stamp and
tantrum, is not to blame, but only those
who once cast out and told they can't
be saved return in blazing rage inhabit shadow
and all the rest the pious light.
Out of respect for the soldiers
let us not speak of peace.
For if a world of diplomatic, thoughtful
problem solving is a possibility, why then
how dare we send our loved ones out
to die, to strive in terror and privation,
to sacrifice their bodies and their minds,
their limbs and senses to explosive conflict
far away, outside the rules of civil conduct
where to kill is just as much a job as filing,
cleaning rooms or sliding cans
past bar-code scanners.
Out of respect for our history,
speak not of genocides committed,
of infected blankets given out,
of trails of tears and wounded knees,
of treaties broken, promises abandoned,
reservations cordoned off and redefined
as minerals emerged and unexpected
resources came to light and seemed
more valuable than earth or sky
or human beings.
Out of respect for tradition
let us not speak of change.
Out of respect for the dead
let us all still our tongues.
Out of respect for the past
let us never speak of the future.
Out of respect for the wealthy
let us not speak of the poor.
Out of respect for the poor
let us not speak of the economy.
Out of respect for the worker
let us not speak of unions.
I am out of respect.
Let us now observe
not a single moment of silence.