open carry

Man with a weapon at a gun rights rally.


The sound of distant gunfire draws nearer
as bodies drop
one after another after another after another
after the sound of rapid-fire gunfire
shatters the air and airwaves again;
guns glinting in sunlight
man-made light.
Darkness has fallen upon us.

There is no light today in Texas,
tomorrow in Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon,
another place as yet unnamed.
Bullets ricochet across the country,
getting closer to my heart each day.

I weep.
I weep for lost children—we are all children—
for Odessa, Harvest, Pulse, Virginia Tech,
Sandy Hook, First Baptist, Parkland, Columbine,
for the ones forgotten
because there are so many
we cannot remember them all.
Some were not tragic enough for memory.

Some were not tragic enough to be remembered.

I weep for my country,
for a nation so lost that we cannot
love each other
to even try to stop killing each other.
America, how many guns do we need?
How many times do we pray and cry
and gnash our teeth
and move on and forget?

Today we offer condolences and heartfelt sorrow.
We watch the news in disbelief.
Tomorrow we watch the latest episode
of the most popular show on television.
We go out drinking.
We try to forget. We lose ourselves
in whatever ways we can, nervously
waiting for the next bullet to fly through the window
as the sound of gunfire draws ever nearer.

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 (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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