Benicia Poet Laureate Johanna Ely: “I am Tired of Waking Up to the Faces of Dead Children”

Johanna Ely, Benicia Poet Laureate
[Editor: I have heard many expressions of profound appreciation following Benicia Poet Laureate Johanna Ely’s reading of “I am Tired of Waking Up to the Faces of Dead Children.”  Here it is.  Get a box of tissues, and live through the detailed reality of automated assault on children in our communities.  Text is below, and here is Johanna reading the poem on a Benicia Herald Youtube video.  – RS]

I am Tired of Waking Up to the Faces of Dead Children

By Johanna Ely, Benicia Poet Laureate, March 16, 2018

I am tired of waking up
to the faces of dead children
who smile at me
from the T.V. or computer screen.
I want to tell them they are not dead.
I want to reach down
into the earth
into the ashes
and resurrect them—
pull them up by their bones
and hug them to my chest.
I want to wake them up
and reassure them that
they are only having a nightmare,
that the goul with the gun isn’t real.
I want to check their homework
and make them breakfast,
send them off into sunlight—
tell them I will see them
when they return home.
I want their backpacks flung on the couch
and the kitchen table—
their lives beginning again
with every breath.
I am tired of waiting for gun laws to change.
I am tired of imagining blood on my hands,
these children dying in my arms.
I am tired of hearing their awful silence
explode in my ears.
I am tired of trying to remember
how many there are now—
how every morning
they look at me
and just keep smiling.

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