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
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
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
 Point Breeze is our neighborhood in South Philly.
One thought on ““Faces” – a poem by my son on gun violence”
Good job,Calvin, a very thoughtful piece.