I wish I had never heard of you,
I wish I had never seen you
wiping tears from your eyes
as you stood on the platform
and spoke for the people,
for the young people who died,
for the young people who survived,
for all the people who know
that what comes out of the barrel
of a gun is inadequacy and
envy and smoke and hating
people as beautiful as you,
Emma Gonzalez, you
with your words that shame
the traders in death and lift
sad friends, miserable families,
bewildered children, and all of us
across your country and the planet
who stand amazed at the power
of your voice, Emma Gonzalez,
your angry laugh,
your daring your president
to become a man, to own up
to his blood money in deep
pockets, I wish I had never seen you
rooted on the stage, defiant,
your head like a wonderful marine’s,
Emma Gonzalez, cropped short
and meaning business, meaning
to clean up big business,
meaning justice, meaning a scattering
of vendors’ tables: your tongue scourging
the ones who trade in carnage
and the ones who watched
the gunman swagger, the gunman
pose, the gunman possessed
by misery, by smoke, by nothing
of any worth. You have given us
hope, Emma Gonzalez,
by your courage and your words.
What a sister, what a friend,
Emma Gonzalez, what a daughter!
Emma Gonzales’ speech – extracts
Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.
We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.
I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student’s right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
When we’ve had our say with the government — and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying ‘it is what it is,’ but if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.
We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.
To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
John Duffy’s poetry
Glamourie. [Calder Valley Poetry 2016] £7.00
The edge of seeing. [The High Window 2017] £10.00