When the Gun Comes to Your Door


Arms Are for Hugging. Photo by Callen Harty.

When the gun comes to your door,
is it still too soon to talk about it?
When it’s pointed at you and your child,
is the right to bear arms still so sacred
you would sacrifice everything to protect it?
Still so sacred you would bear the murder
of those you love?

When the sound of gunshot
rings in your own ears
so loudly you cannot hear yourself scream,
is it too late to listen to the cries of others
who have suffered that same sound?

When bodies pile up around your feet
do you still believe the NRA cares about you
and me
than the makers of the weapon
that laid them there?

When the gun comes to your door,
do you answer it, invite the shooter in,
sit down for coffee?
Do you think about how
will get your pistol out of the locked cabinet
before it’s too late to save yourself
and those you love?

When the gun comes to your door,
does your life flash before your eyes
as fast as muzzle flash? Do you

When the gun comes to your door,
do you
do anything but cry for mercy
for you and those you love?

When the gun comes to your door,
is it still too soon to talk about it?

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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