Heather Khamis

 For Mom

Whenever I get home from school

My mama would tell me about her day

And ‘cause I was too tired to argue

And ‘cause her stories were always interesting

I’d sit back and listen

You see my mama is a librarian

So she gets to see all sorts of lovely people

At their worst

That one time someone walked in in just a swimsuit?

She’s seen it

Someone getting their Superman on in the parking lot?

She said their cape was nice,

But it didn’t help them fly.

Public libraries are like a homing beacon

For some of the strangest people you’ve ever seen.

But it’s also a safe haven

When the weather gets too cold,

And a place to stay

When people have nowhere else to go.

She has seen people at their very worst

Those who have gone homeless

Trying to escape the coldness and ignore the aching in their bones

Children left alone until nightfall

When no phone call will bring those adults there to get them

Cause their mom has been condemned to work two jobs and raise two kids alone

But they’re too scared to walk down these streets

Cause gun violence has only increased

She has seen bricks thrown through windows

And swept the glass away

She has seen needles sinking into skin

In the bathrooms when someone lets their addiction win

Yet she continues on

Because these libraries are a safe haven

To anyone

Anyone who wishes to come in

This morning

When I wake up this morning

It will be like a gunshot



And loud

Like the chirping of swallows outside my bedroom window

When I arise from my bedcovers and walk into the bathroom to untangle my braids

My brush will comb through my curls like the officers through school halls


The survivors

The wounded

And the dead

When I enter my car with my little sister

Our tired eyes will flutter while we sit in the backseat

Just as the eyes of children just like us fluttered

Before permanently falling shut

You see there have been over 300 mass shootings in this tipping cradle

That we call America

You see the tally begins on August 1st, 1966

The sniper’s gun went click click

And by the time police arrived 17 were dead or dying

And since then over 12,000 have met the same fate

So America, don’t tell me that you’re trying

We have protestors screaming about 2nd amendments

That were amended in a time where shooting a gun could take up to five minutes

Yet today we defend weapons that can mow down 600 people per minute

We are more than just your statistics!

We live in a system that would hand pistols to English teachers

While the NRA sits back on the bleachers

I am not trying to preach here

But are we not taught to love thy neighbor

Like we are taught when’s the best time to play dead?

Or the best places to hide?

I don’t want to take sides

But if we’re talking about lives

There should be no debate

There is no time to wait

The facts are in and embedded in the soil of these graves

And stuck in our brains like a copper bullet

So let that lead seep into your veins

inhale the smoke a little longer

And let the metal rust with your blood

Cause if this is our future

we might as well get used to it