Dear Congress, Please…

O Congress, what are you doing?
I can say their names out loud,
each one a sharp edge in my mouth,
each one chiming against my teeth.
I can write their names down the sidewalk,
around the corner, around another corner,
until they form a bracelet of loss around my block.
I can sew their names, Congress, into the inside
of my jacket, carry their photos, their faces,
in all my pockets, but none of that
will bring them back and none of that
will keep it from happening again. It will
not scrape the glass and the blood and
the sorrow and the terror and the grief
(I’ll say it again, Congress, for you)
the sorrow and the terror and the grief
from the insides of our dance clubs,
which is now to say from inside our very selves.
How many times must a heart be wrenched,
must a heart suffer grief, must a heart be stopped
before you act? O Congress, O you
who represent us, what are you going to do?
These are your people. These were your people.
We, the people, are your people, queer, straight,
trans, Latin, loving, loved, we’re human beings, Congress.
Are you going to stare out the window and stay silent?
I can send you my letters and write my poems.
I can vote my conscience, I can hold the candles,
but none of that’s enough. What are you, O Congress,
doing to save us before the next mass shooting,
before the 50 dead in this one are outdone by
the 100 dead in the next? Unstop your voices. Say their names out loud,
all of you. Then say them again and again.
Carry their photos in your pockets. Say their names again.
They are your mantra in the action, Congress,
that you must take now.

— Gillian Wegener
Immediate past Poet Laureate of Modesto, California

[Stanislaus Connections, July/August, 2016, Vol. XXIV, No. 10]