Selected by Bunkong Tuon

Lollie Butler: “These Voices”

These Voices

The Voice of the Gun:

My voice is the wrathful god.
I shout everyone down,
my echo rampages
across this land and I am proud,
                                                       damn proud.
Power is my name.
                       I alone have the last word.

The Voice of the Child:

Your open mouth was the final image
for me. Your voice; a lion’s roar.
                        I had no choice
but to obey your command
and for that, I will never grow
to look straight into my father’s eyes,
                            will forever be a child
of measured years–
                            –five in all.

Was there a plan for me?
Was I to be the sire of later generations?
                                   My lifeline was ragweed yanked up.

                                  A red trike
sits in the driveway
my phantom feet long to push the pedals.

The Voice of the Gun:

I am not a villain but in the hands
of a villain, I am prime accomplice,
to do what I was created to do.
I wait for assignment, for deeds
that cause the world to sit up and take notice.

In early America, I won the West!
Some who feed me may be well-meaning;
those who guard life and the hunters of wildlife.

                              Still others
may be evil or insane,
bent on boring tunnels through the living;
and those who engage in genocide;
in Africa, Europe and Ukraine.
                            I do their bidding, one and all.

They clean me, feed me, praise me
they don’t know my kind;
we take exception to none and do not
                         We take no prisoner, not even the young.
There are so many of us now,
we easily find our way into eager hands.

The Voice of the Child:

I am lost in a forest of frozen faces
whose last word they heard was yours.
                                Many, like me, are eternal children.
Our school clothes blood-stained,
tossed over the bridge.
                               Teachers stood between us and your voice,
but your curse ripped through.

Will my spirit find its way alone?
I search through smoke for my mother’s hand.

The Voice of the Gun:

Don’t blame me for your situation Child,
your people love me.
                                I am The Erasure, the easy, only power
some know. Many live and die holding me.

I am responsible for the fate of the famous;

from Lincoln to King, Kennedy to the numberless
in churches, concerts and schools, returning veterans
with too much to carry.

                              At the sound of my voice, all scream
and scatter. It is for those who direct me to have pity,
                                              I have none.

I am mass-produced, stolen, bought and sold
on a scale never before witnessed.

Citizen’s groups, vigilantes
                   and a national association protect me–
even the Constitution protects me.

Tell me child, who protected you?


The One Thing That Save Me by Lollie Butler
The One Thing That Save Me by Lollie Butler

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