Bringing it home

A first poem about school shootings because writing is a way for me to work things out.

Bringing it home


Unless you teach children

you may not

know this:


that sometimes


after another school shooting

dreaming teachers

hear the classroom door burst open

into a startled silence


panicked teachers

wake up sweating

after the flash

after we

throw ourselves

in front of  the gun,

placing ourselves

between it and our kids –

screaming to them,



Hearts pounding.

Our dream-blind eyes.

The chairs overturned.

The reading corner a jumble of books. 

Our bodies on the floor.

It all seems

like dark magic, something too evil; to utter

these words might conjure

a too-common unthinkable, to bring it



An image pauses in my  mind:

the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary rushes

from a mundane meeting

into the hallway,

her flesh and blood confront a gun


for the battlefield.

A first-grade teacher,

just out of school, stands between

the muzzle

and her cowering children.


You say that I have a too-active imagination,

that this would never happen here.


But it happened there and

there and there and there and there

which is here

unless I place it

over there,

far from home,

mistaking their loss for

my safety


after another school shooting

their ghosts

shake me awake and whisper:

Do something.

– Steve Peterson


Published by

Steve Peterson

I teach fifth grade in Iowa.

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