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Friday, June 25, 2010


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

It's easy to focus on the stories of millions of fish and birds killed in the Gulf
But what about the ones which have been treated and released?
There may not be second acts in life elsewhere
But here in America
Where the shadow of the cross serves as starting line, finishing line
Where life and afterlife are as cheap as it gets
And the bullet in the chamber, the oil in the marsh, the falling safe
Serve their function as comic interludes
As in:
Take America, please
As in:
Take Chicago, please
Where 40 people were shot over the weekend
Where, in the evocatively-named Shakespeare District
A lieutenant tells the Sun-Times Media Wire that the little girl who was shot was not seriously injured.
"She'll be fine," the lieutenant said. "She just got caught in crossfire, unfortunately."
And the 1-year old whose ear was grazed by a bullet?
She'll be fine, too
Yup - treated and released
True, seven people were killed
For them there is no second act
To you seven who succumbed
Like the moribund, oil-clotted pelicans
I find it very hard to grieve for you
For what you've done
Is so very, very un-American

Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady, NY. He is a frequent contributor to New Verse News. Swartz is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Patterson Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Kennesaw Review, and online at Best Poem and switched-on gutenberg. He is the winner of a First Place Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for Excellence in Broadcasting. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, a movie he wrote and directed, opened at the US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.