Twitter is currently spilling over with the news of the horrific mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. A man reportedly calling himself the Joker opened fire on an cinema audience as they were watching the newly released Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises”. 12 people have been confirmed as dead.
Over the coming days I will no doubt feel anger, as the right wing media inevitaby defend gun possession and refuse to call the shooter what he is – a terrorist – because he is white. I will probably see a lot of people being very opiniated about gun crimeand gun posession, and the effect of violence in films on those who watch them, and calls for the reinstatement of the death penalty. We will no doubt see comparions to Columbine and the Norwegian massacre at the hands of a white supremacist. We will see all these things, and we will try to understand them.
My greatest fear is that we have already seen all that we will know – that a young, university educated man with no reason to hurt or kill anyone – let alone innocent strangers – did so simply because he could. Because he wanted to watch the world burn.
For now, as always, I’m trying to make sense through prayer, and poetry, above all.
From “Killing Time”, by Simon Armitage
Meanwhile, somewhere in the state of Colorado, armed to the teeth with thousands of flowers, two boys entered the front door of their own high school and for almost four hours gave floral tributes to fellow students and members of the staff beginning with red roses strewn among unsuspecting pupils during their lunch hour, followed by posies of peace lilies and wild orchids. Most thought the whole show was one elaborate hoax using silk replicas of the real thing, plastic imitations, exquisite practical jokes, but the flowers were no more fake than you or I, and were handed out as compliments returned, favors repaid, in good faith, straight from the heart. No would not be taken for an answer. Therefore a daffodil was tucked behind the ear of a boy in a baseball hat, and marigolds and peonies threaded through the hair of those caught on the stairs or spotted along corridors until every pupil who looked up from behind a desk could expect to be met with at least a petal or a dusting of pollen, if not an entire daisy chain, or the color-burst of a dozen foxgloves, flowering for all their worth, or a buttonhole to the breast. Upstairs in the school library, individuals were singled out for special attention: some were showered with blossom, others wore their blooms like brooches or medallions; even those who turned their backs or refused point-blank to accept such honors were decorated with buds, unseasonable fruits and rosettes the same as the others.
By which time a crowd had gathered outside the school, drawn through suburbia by the rumor of flowers in full bloom, drawn through the air like butterflies to buddleia, like honey bees to honeysuckle, like hummingbirds dipping their tongues in, some to soak up such over-exuberance of thought, others to savor the goings-on. Finally, overcome by their own munificence or hay fever, the flower-boys pinned the last blooms on themselves, somewhat selfishly perhaps, but had also planned further surprises for those who swept through the aftermath of bloom and buttercup: garlands and bouquets, planted in lockers and cupboards, timed to erupt either by fate or chance, had somehow been overlooked and missed out. Experts are now trying to say how two apparently quiet kids from an apple-pie town could get their hands on a veritable rain-forest of plants and bring down a whole botanical digest of one species or another onto the heads of classmates and teachers, and where such fascination began, and why it should lead to an outpouring of this nature. And even though many believe that flowers should be kept in expert hands only, or left to specialists in the field such as florists, the law of the land dictates that God, guts and gardening made the country what it is today and for as long as the flower industry can see to it things are staying that way. What they reckon is this: deny a person the right to carry flowers of his own and he’s liable to wind up on the business end of a flower somebody else had grown. As for the two boys, it’s back to the same old debate: is it something in the mind that grows from birth, like a seed, or is it society that makes a person that kind?
Education for Leiure – Carol Ann DuffyToday I am going to kill something. Anything. I have had enough of being ignored and today I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day, a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets I squash a fly against the window with my thumb. we did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in another language and now the fly is in another language. I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name. I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half the chance. But today I am going to change the world. something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself. I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain. I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking. Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town For signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph. There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar. he cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
the pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm