[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.
Marches have been rare throughout Benicia’s history. Mayor Elizabeth Patterson claimed the last one was held in the World War II era. However, that changed when 800 to 1,500 people filled the streets of downtown Benicia for the March for our Lives.
Like the thousands of other Marches for Our Lives events held throughout the world in response to the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. people from all over Solano County gathered in Benicia to call for tighter gun control laws and protest gun violence.
The march began around 10 a.m. at the bottom of the First Street. Students of all ages lead the march downtown. Those on the sidewalks could hear such chants at “No more silence, end gun violence,” “Spread love, not hate. We just want to graduate” and “Never again” filling the air. The march ended at the gazebo in City Park where the speech portion of the rally was to begin.
Vice Mayor Steve Young Young began by reading the names of the victims of the Parkland shooting and asking for a moment of silence. He then turned the microphone over to Benicia High School senior Shawna Williams.
“It terrifies me that I can go and buy any gun I want,” Williams said. ” What 18-year-old needs a gun, let alone a weapon of war. We’ve seen what semi-automatic weapons can do, so why are they still being sold? Is it because the NRA needs money? I wish the answer was no, but the NRA has been clear that their right to bear arms outweighs our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Continue reading Benicia Herald: March for Our Lives draws hundreds in Benicia→
[Editor: Many thanks to Benicia Herald editor Nick Sestanovich for the following 10 videos, recorded at the March For Our Lives rally at City Park on Saturday, March 24. Repost from The Benicia Herald. – RS]
[Editor: Local videographer Constance Beutel was on scene Saturday, documenting the historic March For our Lives and Rally in City Park. Below is a 10-minute short, followed by a 1-hour video that begins at the sign-making workshop at Arts Benicia on Wednesday.- Constance wrote, “Remembering the high school students killed in Parkland, Florida and so many others who have lost their lives to gun violence, we will add our voices….” – RS]
Here’s the 10-minute clip:
And here is the video taking you from the sign-making workshop to the march up First Street and speakers at the Rally.