A comprehensible tragedy

A comprehensible tragedy
Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The impulse is to try to write something beautiful. Something stirring that crystalizes how we're feeling. Devastated yes but not defeated. Not fully defeated. Not even now. To reassert our collective humanity. To remind ourselves that this is all worth it somehow. Living in the first place I mean.

"I can't go on. I'll go on." etc.

Many people have done so this week just as they did last week after Buffalo and time after time before. Where is there beauty to be found in any of this though? We've stripped the beauty mines clean.

Perhaps it would be better to write something ugly. There's no shortage of ugly to be found in this the latest massacre. A completely comprehensible tragedy.

The timeline of when the terrorist killer entered the school in Uvalde Texas and when if at all he was confronted by police has changed so many times it's hard to know what to believe is true and that is likely the point. Police as we know lie. They lie constantly. They lie as easily as they breathe. And journalists are always happy to assist them in the their lies.

Police lie as easily as they kill because who is going to stop them?

As easily as they usually kill I should say. This time the killing didn't seem to come so quickly for them. This time they hesitated to kill.

I can count the number of ways cops could conceivably be useful to society on one hand and the top one is going in to “put their life on the line” to stop a guy shooting up a school.

The rest are filling out forms for insurance purposes. Maybe traffic shit.

I know you all already know this but if you step back and think about how fucking useless these pigs are and how they help no one and vacuum up every city's entire budget just to kill people then cry about how they're the real victims all the time it's fucking bracing.

The police in Uvalde hoard 40% of the town's entire budget. It's a town of around 15,000 people and they have an entire SWAT team. You've probably seen the photos of them standing around with their guns. Looking like they are ready for war. Not being ready for war it turns out but looking like it. Smiling with their rifles.

The harassment of the terrified parents seemed to come easy to police this time though. The ones they handcuffed outside the school or screamed at to get back and wait. Shut the fuck up and stand there peacefully behind the rope and wait to find out if it is your turn or not. If there's a bullet inside of there still ricocheting around that's coming out for you.

Desirae Garza, whose niece Amerie Jo Garza was killed in the attack, was among the anxious family members who gathered outside the school on Tuesday and grew increasingly frantic. Her brother Angel, her niece's stepfather, learned from one child running from the school that a girl named Amerie had been shot inside. As he ran to try to reach and help her, he was restrained and handcuffed by a local police officer, Ms. Garza said. “Nobody was telling him anything. He was trying to find out. He wanted to know where his daughter was.”

I'm trying to imagine how it would feel to be held back outside of the school your children may or may not be currently being shot to death inside of by police who seem to be disinterested in doing anything to stop it. The women pleading to the brave warriors to go save their children and they simply say...no I don't think I will.

Those cops don't ever get to live a peaceful moment after that I'd have to hope.

Living in America is already taking part in a sick lottery game where we wake up and spin the wheel and wait to find out if we ourselves or someone we love will be one of the roughly three hundred who are shot per day. One of the roughly one hundred who die from it. But standing there outside the school wrenches that grim lottery from a sort of abstraction into starkest reality. The moment before the wheel stops and the ball bounces into its woeful slot. Is my child going to walk out of there? The relief when they do. The agony if they don't.

I don't think agony is a strong enough word. I don't know if we have a word strong enough in the language to accurately convey how that would feel. There are sounds strong enough though.

People often say we've become numb to this blizzard of killing but I don't feel numb right now do you? Days later I'm still furious and horrified and for some reason I am taking a perverse solace in that. That I retain my capacity to feel anything at all. At least I have this anger and sadness. It's a thin gruel but it sustains.

Not that anger or sadness seem to be mounting much of a defense against our country's worship of guns and death.

What good does grief do against a gun I suppose? Against this many guns. You might as well try putting out a fire with gasoline. Grief isn't the antidote to gun violence it's the byproduct of it. A gun is a machine designed to spread as much grief around as quickly as possible. They're very good at what they're made to do.  

You've probably seen people sharing this poem around like people often will at times like these. We all have our routines we repeat after each mass shooting. Our patter down. Share The Onion headline. Do our rehearsed jokes mixed with sadness. Get the other guys' asses. Our little superstitious rituals like a baseball player at bat adjusting his gloves just so. We get an awful lot of at bats.

Anyway it's a lovely poem but who gives a shit.

As I've written in here before poets have been trying to get us to see how terrible war and unnecessary death are since the invention of both poetry and death and it hasn't worked. The poets have lost that one in a rather lopsided defeat I am sad to report.

Sorry this isn't arranged or written very beautifully today. Here's something ugly instead.

She always brushed her teeth. That one is going to stick with me for a while. This little baby brushing her teeth. The parents being proud of her for doing it.

Michelle woke up earlier than usual today because she's got a big day at work and I woke up as well because she was banging around so much for god's sake. Some of us have hangovers to nurse. I watched her out of the corner of my eye trying on this or that outfit and then got up and kissed her goodbye and told her she looked nice and wondered briefly if it would be the last time. It won't be but I thought it for a second.

This is stupid but I still think it couldn't happen at her school. Even knowing what I know that there isn't a type of place in America that these things cannot happen I still think that. What an idiot thing to think. But you kind of have to to function right? I know I said I'm not numb a minute ago but you have to numb some parts of your fear or else who could ever get out of bed?

She's a third grade teacher and she is the least violent person in the world and yes her kids are a pain in her ass sometimes but I have no doubt she would do whatever she could to protect them if the time came. But thinking about her trying to save her kids as best as she could is fucking me up.

Here's something else ugly. It's hard to pick just a few things out to reflect on but you can't comprehend all the ugliness at once. Instead you focus on one or two waves and they give you a general idea of the ocean they came from.

You could maybe convince yourself there is something beautiful about that. Loving someone so much that losing them literally breaks your heart but I'm not inclined to feel that way at the moment. That it had cause to happen in the first place is one of the ugliest things imaginable. I don't know what happened specifically but it's very easy to think of this guy sobbing so hard for days his body gave in.  

I can't go on.

This husband was murdered by the same killer using the same gun that killed his wife to be sure. What a marvellous invention these guns are. The people who love guns must delight in this kind of thing. Look at how far these bullets flew hitting people they weren't even fired at. Just one bullet toppling an entire family. Look at them shoot! I wonder if they see anything beautiful in their trajectory. Or if maybe instead it's the ugliness that they are actually after. It must be what they want right? This must be what they want. All of us living and dying like this. Otherwise you'd think they'd do anything to stop it. One single thing.