“Faces” – a poem by my son on gun violence

Calvin wrote this poem about gun violence and was invited to present it at Girard College’s MLK Service Day. I’m biased, but it’s good.


In this city, life’s fragile, everyone’s vulnerable

A warzone can arise from any block or empty lot

There are casualties, and not just the fighters

Kids, teens, even baby girls–all from bullets drop

Trapped in the crossfire, Guilty? they are not

And what of those who fire those shots?

What other choices have they got?


This situation sure ain’t fair

It’s easy to give up in despair

But if you aren’t there, why even care?

All you’ll see is faces on the news

Victims and killers exposed to our views

All nothing but faces

Really they’re just faceless

It’s about time we face this


Look these faces in their eyes

At first glance it’s no surprise


Look at them they’re gritty

That’s just how things are in this city


At first glance they’re just faces on the news

They’re bloody, scarred and bruised

It’s easy to look away with uncaring views

It all changes when you step into their shoes


Get close and you’ll find more than faces

More than faces attached to names who lived and died in bad places

They’re human, just like you and I

But it seems like they only lived so they could die

After all it only takes some random drive by


Hear about a little girl shot on her porch—doing her hair

It takes a little more than hearing to really care

It’s easy to forget if you don’t live there

It isn’t enough to only be aware

Come a little closer, so close you’ll never forget

Cause if you live here all you can do is hide it

Act tough, or ignore the grit

Cause living in Point Breeze[1]

It ain’t something you do with ease

You hear the shots, then you see the faces

That’s how this city, this place is


Yeah, I’ve had people shot right here in my neighborhood

Have to say blood’s seeped into my neighborhood

Know the cops scared to go in my neighborhood


But what bothers me the most is that I can’t feel the pain

I can’t help but think something’s wrong with my brain

Wondering, now can someone die and life go on without change?

I’m starting to think other people must see it much the same


Cause as this city sees it, tragedies hurt but everyone gotta keep on

Everyone gotta get their own meal

Everyone gotta think “Life’s hard, what’s the deal?”

No one can ever admit the pain is real


But everyone knows someone whose life’s been ended

Many see their own life as something some bullet could steal

But forget it, be like everyone else, be tough, or be pretending

Accept reality, no point trying to bend it

All most can do is live with what they got

Then grow up and shoot or get shot

Be lucky if they wake up in a hospital cot

Even if that happens you could say they’re not

Cause why live in a world you hate?

If you want to get out, why wait?

The only one way out, it’s a dark fate

But without seeing it, how can we relate?


What you gotta see is these streets they bleed

But to fix this what do we need?

There must be some way to succeed?


There’s so much this city does need

But to start, I want to do my part, plant this seed


I want the world to know these faces

They ain’t faceless

They’re human

You gotta see they could be you or me

See the faces

Know they had hopes and dreams

Loves, hates, and schemes

Forever remember the shots and screams

Don’t let go of shattered dreams


But most important of all, remember

Remember these bullets this blood, these scars

Remember they’re not just theirs, but ours


[1] Point Breeze is our neighborhood in South Philly.

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