Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Poetics From the Sandy Hook Killings

When I heard the news of the massacre in the Sandy Hook Elementary School, on Friday December 14, 2012, I taught of the attempted killing of August 10, 1999, in the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, California, where 6 toddlers were shot and injured by Buford Furrow Jr., a neo-Nazi carrying a 9-millimeter semiautomatic gun. I wrote a poem and an introductory note at the time to commemorate the memory of this hideous crime.

The ghastly massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, has inspired me its own poetic impulse which I transpose into a new poem that I am still composing at the moment (4 days after the tragedy). While awaiting its release, I’d like to share with my readers both the introductory note and the poem, written in the late summer of 1999.

An Advice-Poem From a Poet to a Pedokiller

(dedicated to the children who were shot at and wounded by a racist gunman at the Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills on August 10, 1999, and to all the other victims of that madness)

- by Tontongi

In the midst of total nothingness, absurdity and despair, I want to continue to believe in something, to still have hope in tomorrow, hope that our children will have the option to make of this world of ours a better place. It is with this desire to be part of the solution to madness that I wrote the following poem.

The poem is dedicated to the children you have hurt, killed or intended to kill, but it is most of all addressed to you, you the beautiful children you once were, but who at one point decided to hate people instead of hating the human-made adverse conditions and structures that alienate your lives.

The path you are leading us on is a dangerous path, for if we continue to demean not only other peoples’ lives but also our own and that of our children, we will surely condemn ourselves to extinction as a species. Perhaps this is what you want all along, but think twice, does it really make any sense to you? You may be crazy, but you are not a fool.

To all those of you who want to kill just for the hatred of the Other, I would like to ask this: How would you feel if your prophecies and goals were really fulfilled? Would you really like a world of “only you,” only one color shade, one physical feature, one representation of God, one single song, one literature, one single expression of love? Do you really want a world of one truth, one book, one horizon? A world where you have the moon and not the sun, the plains and not the mountains, the lands and not the oceans, the rocks and not the plants, hate and not love, death and not life? Do you really wish for a world of sweet and honey without the spices, the aroma of hotness, the libidinal high of salt? Perhaps; but you surely will be bored to death.

While I may empathize with your anger and unhappiness, the darkness that festers your despair, there is absolutely no reason to hate or harm people you have just bumped onto, much less little children who are relying upon you for guidance and support. If you, personally, really think harming them will further your cause, you are just a lost, demented soul who needs help right now. Open your heart to the person dearest to you or the moral figure you happen to respect. Please, do it now; do not wait! I want to reach you in your inner soul, your humanity, for in spite of all you’re still a human being entangled in circumstances you may not have brought on yourself but on the demarcation of which you still have some control. Remember what the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said: One can always do something about what society or circumstances have done to one.

If talking to someone doesn’t work, and you still feel the impulse to harm, do this one more thing: Go to the nearest ocean beach, bring enough food and drink for only one night; lay half-nude on the sands and watch the days and nights go by; let yourself enjoy the diabolical wonders of the sun, the calm of the moon, the changing shade of the weather and the vast freshness of the water waves; take the time to reflect on your dreams as a growing child, the pain you have endured; think of all small good deeds you have done and the grateful smile you saw in their recipients’ faces; think of the people you have hurt and of how deep in yourself you wish things were different; revive the people you have loved and the unforgettable joy they have brought in your life; think most of all of how a simple decision of yours would save many lives, avoid unnecessary pain, thereby, perhaps, contribute to the evolving fulfillment of a promising life. Continue and repeat this process of self-inquiry until you feel ready to go back to a human village — any human village — and help toward the betterment of living. Otherwise, stay on the ocean beach until you are ready or until Mother Nature recycles your body in the soil of her infinite re-nourishment of life. Perhaps going away into the nothingness of matter was your true mission in life.

Please, do not harm the children

Little gentle hands
as if playing ring-around
joined in unison together
entrusting to the adults’ guidance
their lives and fears and dreams.

They were born just yesterday
a time when joy was for them possible
they came with their vulnerability
armed if only with their hope
to receive our blissful offering.

Burn as long as you wish
the mountain will not go away
destroy all that is still living
our memory will resurface one day
and life will still be our lot.

Please, do not harm the children
you can for your tormented soul
sow new seeds to grow a new garden
tell your grandchildren a new story
share the pride that makes you cry.

If you feel you must kill — kill instead
the nightmares that engulf our world
exterminate the pain that blinds your horizon
the darkness that festers your despair
the miseries brought by human avarice.

Please, do not harm the children
those angelic lilacs of infinite wonders
breath the same air you inhale and pollute
reclaiming your wisdom and boredom
inheriting the deepness of your roots.

Please, do not harm the children
remember the cute child you once were
the marvels you wanted to conquer
the smiles you fostered on many sorrow faces
remember tomorrow is a new beginning.

(August 1999)