1963

Another day, another mass shooting in America. Sometimes I think if I were the kind of poet who adopts classical rhetorical forms I might say, “I lived in the age of gun violence” as opposed to “the age of gold” or even “of plastic” and should there be a future civilization more refined than ours they will say “that must have been very painful—how did they manage?”

There’s prescience in childhood of course. I recall the first day of school after John Kennedy’s funeral. Our teacher asked us to share our feelings about the president’s assassination. I was in the third grade and barely 8 years old. Some of us cried of course. Some of us expressed fear.
And then a kid stood up and said “they killed him with dum dum bullets!” He was thrilled to share this information. “My brother is in the marines, he said they used dum dums!” “Yeah, his head really exploded!”

No one of course knew what to say. I think our teacher said “let’s move on….”

But I remember being repulsed by my classmate’s enthusiasm for bullets and heads exploding. And I also remember understanding that Americans may like violence. I was eight for god’s sake.

Nowadays I think of my 1963 classmate rather frequently for with every mass shooting there’s someone reveling in a testosterone soaked dance about the bullets and the guns used.

I disliked that classmate.

And yes, he beat me up one day just because I was blind.

2 thoughts on “1963

  1. There does seem to be a huge number of people, especially men, who like violence. Who either commit it or encourage it (and someone in the news lately comes to mind). What can we do about this? I don’t have an answer. And the shooters are almost always young loner guys with mental problems. How do they get their guns??

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