The New Era

I think about carrying the gun

I’d never be brave enough to fire

I am told this will make me feel safe

People, white men particularly, love to tell me

to buy a gun

And maybe they are right

Perhaps carrying a loaded gun around with me would make me

unafraid

But have you ever seen a gunshot wound, even decades later?

A bullet will disfigure,

gnarl a person’s skin,

twisting and warping the fragments

cells dragging their pieces back together

covering a hole that will never truly heal,

if it leaves a breathing body at all.

I am told this will make me feel safe,

to be given the power to do this,

to cause the same destruction that threatens me,

to shred human flesh

And I can’t help but wonder who wrote these rules

Who decided violence was the formidable response to fear?

Who decided my ability to cause pain bestows safety?

I don’t know how often I feel safe,

perhaps too often

(naïveté is the houseguest you always forget is crashing in the den)

perhaps not often enough,

when my bed feels threatening

when the trolley feels threatening

when cable news tells me my father is threatening

when the vice president claims I am threatening

and when the president is threatening

I feel safe with my mother

I feel safe when holding the housecat close to my face

I feel safe, even tenuously so, in the arms of a lover

I feel safe most often in the presence of another beating heart,

the bloodied, thrumming, angry existence 

fierce and insistent

The earliest serenity we are afforded is

the intimacy of closeness,

the proximity of life

--and not Life, as some would deem it,

as the miraculous, glorious gift, unknowable and invaluable

but life, beautifully common and humbling

in its sheer will to simply exist.

That is where my safety sleeps,

tucked into the chest of another,

not holstered between my belt loops

Before I sound too docile,

let me be clear,

this vice president

my president

the cable news networks

they are all correct

I am the threat they so desperately fear:

queer, brown, radical, femme

I am everything they cower from

I am the future that terrifies them

My rage is formidable

loud

present

My heart beats 

Do you understand the gravity of that?

That I exist,

all shining and sparkly,

luminescent and melanin-infused

Queer and planting the whimsy of my love

deep in the chest of everyone I come across

Leaving handprints of silliness, innocence

on the sides of buildings

on the cheeks of lovers

Leaving marks with the soles of these dancing shoes

all over the sidewalks of this city

to proclaim that I WAS HERE

Hoping to leave behind Joy

as an heirloom,

gifted by some great goddess

who saw me, and you, and every beating heart

as worthy and welcome

And isn’t that a revolution?

Isn’t my bliss defiant?

Isn’t my love profound?

So maybe a gun will not make me feel safe

but would I protect this serene celebration in my chest, 

the rhythmic radiation of love,

the purity of my inner symphony?

Would I defend it with a weapon?

I look around at the chaos raging

and the daggers at the necks of my brothers, sisters, and siblings

and the smug, smiling conservative faces on CNN,

and I think, 

maybe 

I could use a gun.

Samya Abu-Orf

Zoe Rayn Evans