By Erin Hambidge, TIWP Student
Firework or firearm,
red, white, and blue explode across the sky,
colors of mourning
for a country riddled with bullets:
land of the free, home of the brave.
Our strongest soldiers are schoolchildren
armed with clear backpacks and the fear that one day,
shelter-in-place will not be enough.
Empty buses, empty classrooms.
AR-15s are free because education is the price we pay.
There will be no next time
but next time is today, tomorrow, and the day after that.
The flag stands at half-mast.
Soon it will fall, buried under a million futures never realized:
a million gunshots never stopped,
a million promises never kept,
an anthem of triumph
for a country of tragedy.
How dare you kneel, how dare you shed a tear.
Stand up and pray for your country.
Clasp hands for the lost souls,
the victims of the violent American dream.
Sing not for stars and stripes
but for families who never said goodbye.
Enough is enough, but it goes
Turn off the news, mute the TV.
What’s one more name?
The list is too long to see.
Pack the picnic blankets, the hot dogs, the extra napkins.
When fireworks echo, so do shots.
Happy Fourth of July, America.