The Following Page Contains Mentions Of: *mass shootings *Gun Violence, *C-PTSD


Jaiyana Stallworth, Central VPA

The snaps and popping of gum,

the scratch of pencils to paper.

The anxious fingers tapping atop a desk,

the typical sounds of school nature.


The laughter of children.

The moans and groans because of work that just won’t quit.

The shuffling of book bags to fetch a pen.

A fleeting moment of quiet.


Just that quick, at bullet speed, one sound,

managed to touch the lives of everyone.

There’s a deathly stillness, hope it’s a terrible dream.

The stuff you see in the news; is never as real: as the real thing.


The training we scoff and laugh at, the only thing on my mind.

The hypothetical will never prepare you when you’re met with the sight

Of students, teachers so different

All at that moment dealing with the same feelings of fright.


Some pray, some deny, some accept one day you’ll die

And today may very well be that day.

There’s nothing we can do but wait.

And maybe, hopefully, death will come at bullet speed.


The waiting is the worst part. The counting, wondering…

Will the next round let out be for me?

The questions come soon, and there’s no red light inside your mind;

no speed limit sign,  so they just speed on by.

One after the other, another, then another.

It’s too late to wake up from this dream.

Will I ever again be able to sleep—is sleep even going to be an option for me?

Or, will the choice be made for me, at bullet speed?


The ring of gunshots, so close yet still far.

Nothing is louder than the sound of my beating heart.


Drumming like a war song, thum, thum, thum-thump

Maybe it’s a death march in a war not meant to be won.


The clock still ticks, though time doesn’t exist.


Despite the fact mine had stopped, the world still spins.

The future feels imaginary, so my brain runs toward the past.

Did I make every moment special, and what moments were my last?

As the thought crosses, the earsplitting silence is back.


The fog clears and we cross the bridge,

My feet carry me without a head.

I look upon the crying faces for one familiar to me.

I think the worst before I can stop myself, and slowly, I can’t breathe.


I can’t breathe, I can’t think, I can’t stop the tears coming down my face.

With each gasping breath, I attempt to let out, I can see pieces of me breaking.

When I finally catch my composure, I know I’m not the same person I was when I came in.

All of me was gone, never to return. In that building, a ghost remained.


Isn’t it so weird to think:


How fast


things can change,


at bulletspeed?