Poems for Santa Fe High School Shooting Victims and Their Families
These poems are dedicated to the victims and survivors of the massacre at
Santa Fe High School in Texas, and to their family
and friends, a wounded nation, and a grieving world. #Enough #NeverAgain #ChangeTheLaws
Rick Santorum recently opined that students should learn CPR rather than asking
for sane gun control laws. One of the survivors of the Parkland massacre, David
Hogg, pointed out that when a child is riddled with bullets, CPR is not going to help. We would refer Rick Santorum and
the NRA to the poem "A Revolver" by one of America's greatest poets, Carl
Sandburg. The poem appears on this page.
It is past time to heed Mahatma Gandhi, who said that if we are going to save the world, we
must start with the children.
compiled by Michael R. Burch, an editor
and publisher of Holocaust poetry
Are we hearing a note of hope?
"And a little child shall lead them." Lead them where? The biblical passage in
question is about
ending violence and finding peace. America's adults should have protected our schoolchildren from
mass shootings. We failed. Now students are taking the lead, and we
MUST support them. How? With our votes. Let's all
vow to vote politicians who refuse to protect children out of office. Until we
adults act with love to protect our children from such massacres, poets will
keep writing poems like the ones on this page, wishing with all their hearts they were not
Epitaph for a Santa Fe Student
by Michael R. Burch
I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.
Epitaph for the Child Erotion
by Marcus Valerius Martial
Lie lightly on her, turf and dew ...
She put so little weight on you.
Come Lord and Lift
by Tom Merrill
Come Lord, and lift the fallen bird
Abandoned on the ground;
The soul bereft and longing so
To have the lost be found.
The heart that cries—let it but hear
Its sweet love answering,
Or out of ether one faint note
Of living comfort wring.
For a Santa Fe Student, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch
Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails, when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream while winter scowls
and nights compound dark frosts with snow?
Where does the butterfly go?
Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?
And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?
by Oscar Wilde
Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.
I Pray Tonight, for the Santa Fe Survivors
by Michael R. Burch
I pray tonight
the starry light
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.
I pray ere the morrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.
Santa Fe Call to Love
by Michael R. Burch
Our hearts are broken today,
for our children's bodies lie broken;
let us gather them up, as we may,
that the truth of our Love may be spoken.
Then, when we have put them away
to nevermore dream, or be woken,
let us think of the living, and pray
for true Love, not some miserable token,
to command us, for strength to obey.
Santa Fe Call to Action
by Michael R. Burch
We see their small coffins
and our hearts break,
so we ask the NRA—
"Did you make a mistake?"
And we vow to save the next child
for sweet love's sake,
but also to protect ourselves
from enduring such heartache.
"A Revolver" is a newly-discovered, unpublished and previously unknown poem
by Carl Sandburg. Although it was written decades before Columbine, Virginia
Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Parkland, the poem seems highly relevant and might have been
written just a few minutes ago and addressed to the "religious right," the NRA
and its powerful gun lobby. "A Revolver" was discovered
among Sandburg’s archives, which are housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript
Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
by Carl Sandburg
Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.
A simple, little human forefinger can tell a terrible story with it.
Hunger, fear, revenge, robbery hide behind it.
It is the claw of the jungle made quick and powerful.
It is the club of the savage turned to magnificent precision.
It is more rapid than any judge or court of law.
It is less subtle and treacherous than any one lawyer or ten.
When it has spoken, the case can not be appealed to the supreme court, nor any
mandamus nor any injunction nor any stay of execution come in and interfere with the original purpose.
And nothing in human philosophy persists more strangely than the
old belief that God is always on the side of those who have the
I have this theory
that if one person can go out of their way to show
then it will start a chain reaction of the same.
People will never
know how far a little kindness can go.
—Rachel Joy Scott, a victim of the Columbine massacre
Here is an inspirational quote by Rachel Joy Scott that has not only become a
poem, but a form of visual art:
Just passing by
Just coming through
Not staying long
I always knew
This home I have
Will never last
—Rachel Joy Scott
Darrell Scott is the father of Rachel Joy Scott, the first of the thirteen victims of the
Columbine High School massacre. Rachel was a beautiful 17-year-old girl, and an
aspiring writer and actress. Her father wrote the poetic lines below four days before
speaking to Congress on the subject of the mass killings of students and
teachers, the role of the NRA, and gun control:
Your laws ignore our deepest needs
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage.
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms.
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere.
And ask the question "WHY"? ...
Darrell Scott has helped create an organization called Rachel's Challenge, which
works to combat school violence and bullying.
Before she died, Rachel Scott drew this haunting picture with thirteen tears
that may have prophesied her fate, and the fate of the other victims. But
perhaps the flower being watered by the tears symbolizes love and compassion ...
did Rachel predict that her death and those of her friends would lead to a new
flowering of love and compassion?
Here are some of the comments written on Rachel's casket by her friends and
loved ones ...
Rachel's Casket: an Outpouring of Love and Affection
Darrell Scott's following remarks were made before the subcommittee on crime of the House
Judiciary Committee at the Rayburn House office building in Washington, D.C. on
May 27, 1999. Here are excerpts from his testimony:
"Since the dawn of creation, there has been both good and evil in the heart of
men and of women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence.
The death of my wonderful daughter Rachel Joy Scott and the deaths of that
heroic teacher and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their
blood cries out for answers. The first recorded act of violence was when Cain
slew his brother Abel out in the field ... My daughter's death will not be in
vain. The young people of this country will not allow that to happen ... The
young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking
place that will not be squelched! We do not need more religion. We do not need
more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do
not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic
needs are being ignored ..."
I hope and pray that Darrell Scott is correct, and that young Americans and the
parents and other adults who love them will not allow the mayhem and carnage in
our school halls to continue. Darrell Scott, as I understand him, has called for
a spiritual awakening, but I'm afraid that mass murderers are not spiritual
people, nor are they even mildly influenced by calls for compassion and justice.
So I believe we really do need stronger gun control laws, to keep assault
weapons out of their hands. Here is a poem written by his daughter ...
Create in me
Invest in me
I will create my own dream,
my own image, my own future.
No one else can do that for me.
—signed Rachel Joy in her journal, in which she wrote immediately above the
poem, in prose: "I am my own responsibility. Feel no obligation, because I will
be no one's success story but my own."
Spurred on in part by writings in the notebooks and diaries left behind by his
daughter, Darrell Scott — the son of an Episcopalian minister, though he himself
is adamantly non-denominational — quit his job, set up a non-profit organization
called The Columbine Redemption, and embarked on a grueling schedule of speaking
engagements all across the United States to spread his message.
On May 2nd, Rachel wrote in her journal: “This is my last year Lord. I have
gotten what I can. Thank you.” She also drew a picture, known as Rachel’s Tears;
it has two eyes with thirteen tears falling down. Her parents believe that
Rachel somehow knew that she and twelve other people were going to die within a
Darrell Scott said: "Rachel had a unique way of tilting her head to the side
when she was thinking seriously. And I remember her beautiful smile. Rachel had
an inward motivation to accomplish as much as possible. Whenever she sensed an
injustice being done to someone, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant
it was, indignation rose up within her. She was always ready to stand up for
anyone who she felt was mistreated."
According to Dana Scott, Rachel's big sister, she had a great sense of humor.
She once recorded a voicemail on their home phone that said, “You have reached
Queen Rachel and her humble servants … please leave a message after the
beep.” Her middle name, Joy, was truly one of the best ways to describe her
Rachel's Challenge was started by Rachel's dad and stepmom, Darrell and Sandy
Scott, when they realized that the writings and drawings Rachel left not only
had an impact on her friends and classmates, but also resonated with students
around the world. Although Rachel was a typical teenager who wrote about her
"ups and downs," she had a passion and conviction that she would someday change
the world. The Scott family knew her story and passion had to be told to inspire
others to make their world a better place. More than 18 million people have been
touched by Rachel's message, and they continue the legacy of making a difference
in their communities. Each year at least two million more people are added to
that number. In one survey, 78% of students indicated they would definitely
intervene in a bullying incident in their school after seeing Rachel's
Challenge. In a recent 24 month period, Rachel's Challenge received more than
450 emails from students who indicated that they changed their mind about taking
their own life after hearing Rachel's Challenge.
Rachel's Challenge is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization
based in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.
Sandy Hook Poems, Aurora Poetry,
Courtni Webb's Sandy Hook Poem and Possible Expulsion,
Hiroshima Poems, Holocaust Poems,
Trail of Tears