Student-written poem expresses outrage at school shootings

Lincoln junior Maia Abbruzzese wrote the poem “Under Attack” in the hours after the shooting at Roseburg’s Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, and read it at a vigil in downtown Portland that night. It has since been shared by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and featured on the local TV news and radio.

I became so angry about our inability to reform the flaws of our status quo that I felt the only way to get it out was through a poem,” she said.


“Under Attack”

America, we are under attack

as guns burst in our classrooms

the federal government signs the Patriot Act


we are willing to spend billions of dollars

protecting ourselves against foreign threats

but America, how can we begin to forget

the lives lost at our own triggers?


It’s 1999 and at Columbine High School

two students open fire on their peers

the sound of those bullets ripping the air

in their way

must have been the most terrifying last sound

to hear


And while I can only imagine

what it would be like to live my last moments

enslaved within the grasp

of a gun breathing death

I don’t have to imagine anymore

because mass violence is happening next door

I go to sleep making sense of

popping sounds blaring outside


I go to sleep every night

remembering the time

my little brother was playing in a park

dribbling his basketball

to the rhythm of three gunshots

because it could’ve been him

he could’ve been one more body

in the count

one more statistic in our textbooks


Because America,

2015 will go down in our records as a year

with more mass shootings

than days so far

we are under siege

spilling our dollars

protecting against Muslim extremists

when we hear gun barrels

emptying themselves into our schools

into our communities

into our country


And we continue to preach freedom

but in a country

with 89 guns per one hundred people

Freedom is not our reality

because we live under the crushing system

that finds going to the funeral of a child

more socially acceptable

than sending a mentally ill potential shooter

into therapy


This destruction is our reality

this destruction is our status quo

but this destruction isn’t the way things

have to be


We need to recognize the problem

of domestic terrorists running this country

we need to strengthen regulations

on the hands that touch guns

we need to put child-safe padlocks

on every gun cabinet

we need to provide therapy for violent kids

so parents of fallen children do not have to

live another day regretting

that they sent their child

to school


This is a problem we can no longer ignore

because we are under attack

and this time,

the attacker

is us