Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What I'm Willing to Accept: More Thoughts on Guns in this Nation

I'm not willing to accept that this is just the way things are, the way things are going to be. I'm not willing to believe that we just have to accept occasional massacres as part of the cost of being USAmerican citizens.

I've written on gun violence before on this blog. If you're interested in what I was thinking at the time I wrote, scroll back through the archives. Today, here's what I'm thinking; here's what I believe.

Now, some might say that it's too early after this most recent tragedy to talk about legislation. I disagree, but am willing to concede that it might be too early for some people. OK. I'm willing to wait. Is one week of mourning an adequate amount of time? If so, let's have this conversation starting Monday morning next week. If not, how about one month? Is that enough time to mourn collectively? Then let's schedule the conversation for November 1 (All Saint's Day ... maybe a good day to talk about our nation's propensity to inflict death on one another using firearms).

Regardless of whether it's today, next week, or next month, the conversation needs to happen sooner instead of later. And I, for one, am ready to have the conversation, starting with listening to those with whom I disagree.

This morning I listened to a very articulate conservative talk show host make very reasonable points about gun use and ownership. I listened to him make a well-reasoned argument about the necessity of not increasing the amount of firearms regulation. I appreciated his perspective. His perspective, at least in part, is that the positive of allowing USAmerican citizens the (second amendment) freedom to own weapons outweighs the negative of tragedies like what happened this past weekend in Las Vegas.

I, however, disagree. I believe that gun ownership should be more strongly regulated. Like other constitutional rights that are restricted by certain situations and conditions, the right to own weapons is already restricted. A private citizen, for instance, is not allowed to purchase a fully automatic rifle.

For me, greater restrictions on firearms ownership is better; for the very articulate conservative, less restrictions are better. We both came to our position thoughtfully, and by considering what we believe to be best for our nation. And neither of us, I'd guess, is interested in changing our mind without some kind of significant evidence that counters what we believe in obvious ways.

But I would absolutely be willing to change my opinion if I were faced with good, non-biased, non-partisan, peer-reviewed research indicating that my opinion does not, in fact, lead to a more ideal reality.

At one point in time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded research into gun violence. However, in 1996, Congress withheld funding for that research, and threatened to cut all CDC funding if that agency continued with research into gun violence.

Perhaps the CDC is not the appropriate agency to do this research. OK. How about a different agency, like the National Institute of Justice?

The point is, my opinion will change if good, responsible, scientific, peer-reviewed research shows that my opinion leads to death and not life.

And I'm not willing to accept that there's nothing we can do to decrease gun violence in this country.

So, while I will continue to call for an increase in reasonable restrictions on gun purchases and ownership, I'll also call for federal funding for gun violence research. And if the research indicates that an increase in restrictions is a bad idea, I'll change my opinion.

But without the research, we have nothing but our opinions.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Long Gravel Road: a moment of Isolation and Connection

I followed a truck
            down a long gravel road
      (of course, it kicked up dust
                  from the road
            a frustration, as I couldn’t keep
                  the windows down
      (I tried, but the dust-coughing
                  was too much))

they set up camp over there
            the rv, the atv, the generator

I can hear them
      but can’t see what they’re up to

maybe they hear me
            only when I laugh out loud
                  at what I’m reading
            (a book about death, pain, & sorrow)
      but I doubt it
without knowing it, I came here
      for isolation
the phone’s turned off,
      but on wouldn’t make a difference
            since the connection doesn’t reach this valley

no connection leaves room for connection
      to breath
      to aroma
      to noises
            that don’t penetrate the city
      to the waning light
            or the encroaching dark
      to the desert cold
                  that’s about to chase me into
            the tent that I’ve set up where
                  morning’s sun will wake me early

in time to get back out

      down that long gravel road

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Darkness: of Eclipses, or Relationships

It happens

it’s not a secret
            it doesn’t come as a surprise
      it’s obvious to those who
                  allow themselves to pay attention

it would be dark soon

      for some, the darkness is barely noticeable

      for others it’s obvious
                  like a bruised rib
            you can ignore it, but I can’t

      and there are those who couldn’t miss it
            except that their eyes were closed
            except that they kept themselves from seeing
                  the waning light

we who have seen the darkness
            with our own eyes
      felt it
            in our own skin
      experienced it
            at the center of our being
hope that it will pass
            sooner or later

then, as soon as it’s done,
      we wonder when the darkness will return

Friday, August 11, 2017

One Year: of Divorce (and Mixed Metaphors)

      weeks and weeks of numb

one day
      papers were signed voiding vows
one day initially pervasive confusion (the not-sure-what-this-means)
      made space for numb

months of numb occasionally made way for
            emotional nausea
      as if feeling had gotten tipsy
            eaten nachos
                  and couldn’t get off the amusement park ride

when occasional became frequent
      numb would have been welcome

there were moments, though
            when numb and nausea
      were set aside for
            (not joy happiness contentment)

then, for just long enough to notice
      joy happiness contentment snuck into the forgetting
            a confusing welcome surprise

      & joy happiness contentment
            like the sun above a hazy morning
      began to peek through


one day recently I stopped, noticing that I couldn’t recall a bad hour
      over the previous 240 …
            of course, day eleven fixed that

I still expect clouds

      at the same time, I’m also starting to expect sun 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Solitude: On Being Discarded

our connection
    (built on two lifetimes
     of history)
should have been

now there is no more "we"
    the "me" half
      of what once was
        discarded as worthless

alone, I wonder what it might mean
    to embrace solitude

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Scars: marks on our skin, and elsewhere

there's a mark between my eyes
     where iron attracted three stitches worth of attention

above that, and to the right, a round indentation
     from chicken pox - it's faded now

you can't see where the baseball missed my glove
     and found my lip, but you can feel it

and my eyebrow hides
     the tennis racket's impact point

motorcycle burn? people ask me
          pointing to my leg
     plate glass door guillotine   I reply

you can see where the oyster shell got me
     if you know where to look


each scar, of course, is a reminder of an
     they fade with time; some even disappear
the worst, though, remain forever
     naturally part of my flesh
          not causing the same pain now that they once did

I hope that's true, too, for the
          that aren't on my skin

Thursday, June 1, 2017

One Moment, on the Bike Path Going Home

in the west the sky is darkening
early Colorado afternoon clouds
     bringing front range rain

shoes on, bag loaded
     soon the pedals are spinning
     as I race the storm

cresting a hill and looking west
     the sky's darker than it was, and

I hear raindrops on my helmet
     I almost feel raindrops on my arms
          and on my lips

in that moment, though, my tongue tells me
     that I've been deceived by
          a swarm of gnats

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On the Eve of my daughter's graduation: in which I wax nostalgic, and pray

high school graduation
coming back to town from the 
job that I'd already started 

      (summer camp lifeguard
      isn't that the dream)

we walked in the ceremony
moving tassels from one side
to the other
after awkwardly shaking hands with 
   the principal
   the superintendent
   maybe a coach?
            (it was texas, after all)
and then we left in our cars

up and down the main street
stopping here and there
      houses, parks, stores
somehow I recognized at the time, that the
freedom from adulthood, coupled with a
responsibility to nothing but learning
   born by us middle class high school students
was a vanishing gift
   which we hadn’t fully appreciated

in the morning I left … again
off to new life at camp,
new life at college


now I see it from another side
and I hope her memories are good
      her foundation is solid
            her future is full of new life

Grief: after the death of Love

Like the broken chips settled to the bottom of the bag
a remnant of something
    that was once valued
they're no longer worth reaching for

Like the ground underfoot
Terra Firma, constantly reliable
   the foundation of everything
until the earthquake
rips away what once felt solid
    leaving no point of reliable reference

Like diving into the deep end
    to pick up pennies tossed there
how many can you get?
    one, two, three, four ... probably one more
but your breath's suddenly gone
    and you're still twelve feet down
frantic, clawing the water
    there's not enough traction to move quickly up
  you're where you don't belong
    and you have to escape
the panic hangs on even 
    when you're back on solid ground

Like an infant wailing for mom
    who's only just gone to the grocery store
    a ten minute trip for mom
but an infant's eternity, anticipating
    an isolation that may never end

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

April Hike through the Woods

Autumn leaves
recently freed from
Winter's frozen blanket
probably did crunch underfoot
before the snow fell

today, though, they soften
our steps, cushion our footfalls;
until the trail descends,
we walk easily

as we begin to lose elevation
our steps are slower, more cautious
conversation pausing, while our
concentration turns to
hoping friction is strong enough
to hold in place
autumn's leaves under our feet

but when the down is done
and every next step
is level with the one before
the Trail becomes once again
what carpet only dreams about