Wednesday, March 24, 2021

New Mass Murders Rip Scab from Old Wounds—Murfin Verse

An all-too familiar sight--people comfort each other outside of a Boulder, Colorado supermarket where 10 died on Monday. 

Pundits are already finding the silver lining in the Coronavirus year—the lock down and school closings gave us a respite from the kind of mass gun murders that had become numbingly routine in the previous decade.  Of course that didn’t take into account the rise in urban street crime shoot ‘em ups that have drenched many of our cities in Black and Brown blood.  That is something somehow entirely different even to many white and Anglo anti-gun violence crusaders.  Be that as it may, the pause in those other mass shootings has abruptly ended as vaccinations have spread, infections, and deaths gone down and states and municipalities have rushed to open up and return to something that seems normal.  Part of normal includes what is spit out of the ends at the barrels of assault weapons.

Easy to obtain from suburban gun shops, private sales, and out-of-state purchases, automatic weapons and combat ammo seized by Chicago police in 2019 fuel the steep rise in deadly street crime in the city.

In one week we have seen the Georgia attacks on women, Asians, and massage parlors that left eight dead and the Boulder, Colorado supermarket attack that has claimed ten.  In the first case the assailant was a young white man who was “having a bad day” and targeted those who apparently tempted his sexual purity.  Local and even Federal authorities seem to have a hard time charging the shooter with a hate crime although victim communities—Asians and women—clearly understand it to be. 

In Colorado the shooter was an apparently Muslim man.  One suspects that authorities will have less trouble labeling him a hate crime offender and plainly calling the incident what it clearly is—an act of terrorism.

In both cases the offenders—we won’t bother with the nicety of calling them “alleged”—were captured alive unlike many un-armed Blacks in routine traffic stops or mental health crisis.  And in both cases there are very loose restrictions on gun ownership and in the case of Colorado allows open-carry.  In fact just days earlier a state court overturned an assault weapon ban that had been enacted in the wake of other Centennial State atrocities. 

In the aftermath of both shooting, the same old pattern of responses have rolled out—public outrage and demands for immediate action, moves by Democrats including President Joe Biden and members of the House and Senate vowing to enact legislation this time, and the gun lobby and their bought-and-paid-for Congressional mouth pieces telling us how they mourn the victims but that the rest of us have to calm down and not act in haste.  The gun nuts are confident that once again outrage will fade after a few weeks and we can all return to the normal of deadly weapons for all who want them in the name, of course, of freedom.

I'm in my 70s now but this sign that I carried in a marc in Woodstock after the Parkland mass murder is sadly relevant again. As a nation we never seem to learn...I'm carrying it again in my heart today for Boulder.

Over the years I have written poetry often, far too often, after explosions of gun violence, mass murder, and domestic terrorism in this country.  It feels like there is hardly anything else to say—no new insights, outrage, or grief.  The parade of atrocities seems never ending, as does our by now ritualized and inadequate responses.  But however familiar they become, we cannot allow ourselves to be numbed by them.  We cannot lay aside our outrage and our anger not only against the individual perpetrators, but those who encourage, abet, and arm them. We must resist the culture that fosters violence and hate and take positive action—far more than ever before—to stop it.

Almost two years ago after yet another outrage—the El Paso Walmart attack—I trotted out just some—not all—of the verse I composed after previous events.  Gun violence has all too frequently been my poetic topic over the years.  You will be forgiven if you can’t even remember some of the incidents—there have been far too many of them and the blur over time.

The victims at Umpqua Community College--now barely a footnote.

Ritual Bloodletting, Breast Beating, and Blaming

October 1, 2015

In the Wake of Umpqua Community College Killings


Grief stricken families, victims, and survivors

            are the bullies

            the launchers of vast, dark conspiracies

            and the gun worshipers and fantasy world heroes

            the mewling, pitiful victims.


Step right over the victims.

            Don’t slip on the blood.

            Remember what is Holy and Sacred.


…Or we will kill you.


—Patrick Murfin

Not John Brown.


He Who Shall Not Be Named Here

November 27, 2015

After Colorado Springs


No!  He is not Old John Brown

            come round again

            no matter the wild eyes

            and wilder beard.


The unborn will not rise up

            and arm themselves,

            to wreck vengeance on

            the women who carry them

            and anyone who ever

            had a kind word or thought

            for them.


God is not on his side

            just as He/She/It

            is not on the side

            righteous trigger happy cops

            tempted by the backs

            of Black young people.


Just as Allah is not on the side

            of fanatics in Syria, Iraq, and Paris.


He will never savor martyrdom,

            ride to his own hanging

            on his casket,

            only the long, lonely oblivion

            of maximum prison hole.


Despite his yearnings

            a nation will not march to war

            with his name ringing in song

            on hundred thousand lips.


With luck, rivers of blood

            and mountains of corpses,

            families turned against families,

            the land laid waste,

            will not be his legacy.


With luck.


—Patrick Murfin


Bodies amid the refuse of the stampede to get out of the line of fire in Las Vegas.

What Doesn’t Stay In Vegas

October 3, 2017


What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there.


It oozes under the front door

of that little house in Tennessee

leaving a nasty stain in the carpet

that will last generations.


It drips from the empty desk

            in the high school office

            where the phone rings unattended

            next to a famed family photo

            and a jar of M & Ms.


It is tangled in the nets

            of that Alaska trawler

            spilling on the deck

            and splattering those rubber boots.


It has to be wiped from the table

            of that Disneyland cafĂ©

            by some other harried waitress

            before it spoils some child’s

            special day

            or gets on Snow White’s costume.


It pools by the council’s table

            in a San Diego courtroom

            the empty chair

            unable to represent

            the mother of three.


It cannot be washed from

            the filthy hands

            of every politico

            who took gun pushers’ cash

            and kissed the ass of every

            fetishist wanking himself off

            to violence porn and hero fantasies.


—Patrick Murfin

An actual Valentine Day target sold at gun stores,  Target audience?  Incels and misogynists? 


Three Holes in the Valentine Heart

Chicago 1929


Toddlin’ Town rat-a-tat-tat,

            just Jazz Age juice and justice,

            Tommy guns talkin’

            fedoras flying,

            mugs massacred,

            wanna-be eye doc,

            grease monkey

            garage gore gone.


“Only Capone kills like that.”


Cool beans!



Northern Illinois University 2008


Gunman on campus!

            Good-guy grad student

            gone goofy

            lecture hall lesson

            in shot gun blasts

            and Glock gotchas.


Campus cops closing in,

            one last round

            under the chin,



Twenty-three down,

            sixteen shot,

            five dead and,

            oh yeah, the perp.


Is that all?

            Piker!  Ain’t no Virginia Tech!

            hardly worth the weeping and wailing

            all those vigils and candlelight!


And the NRA says all those pussy students

            who didn’t pack their own heat

            should have OK corralled it.


Nothing to see here,

            move along.


Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 2018


Crazy Cruz kid had issues,

            gas mask, smoke grenades,

            and a handy AK-47

            extra magazines just in case.


Shoot, pull fire alarm.

            spray death, kick in doors,

            spray death, repeat.



Thoughts and prayers

            out the wazoo today.

            Blame tomorrow.

            Not me, not us.



Look….a squirrel

            or Stormy Danniels’ cleavage,

            any damn thing…


—Patrick Murfin

No comments:

Post a Comment