Terror Attack or Shooting? – A Poem

Trigger Warning: Mass shootings, gun violence, graphic depictions of violence.
I wrote this poem in response to the talk about the Pulse Orlando shooting being a terror attack because it was perpetrated by “possibly a Muslim”. As a shooting survivor, I have a lot of feelings about that.

Do not tell me what is a terror attack or what isn’t.
You do not know the ice of hearing windows shatter
You do not know the terror of hearing sister is shot
You know nothing of what bullets sound like hitting human flesh
or the screaming of your sisters
or the desperation of being on a phone to a 911 operative
begging them to come because my sisters have been shot
because my twin is lying in front of me on the floor of a minivan
with blood streaming out her nose
and she looks like she’s asleep but she won’t wake up
Do not tell me it is not terror
to try to hide behind a leather seat
to see bullets hitting windshield
to not see where they are coming from
to watch father fall to ground from one piercing him
to want it all to stop, stop, stop
but the bullets are ringing over and over and over
there is so much noise
time is so slow but it keeps going
do not tell me it is not terror
to rip a scarf from your body to try to stop twin sister’s bleeding
to have to look your twin over for an exit wound
do not tell me it is not terror to not have her answer you
to hear your mother saying “I can’t find a bullet hole
I can’t find one, oh God I can’t find one”
do not tell me it is no terror to stumble out of the car
to see other sister on the ground
with face blue from lack of oxygen
to feel your heart fall apart into your stomach as you know she is dying
to have to run from her because the shooter could be returning
to feel your soul is being ripped from your body
because your sisters’ souls are leaving you
do not tell me it is not terror
to wait for news of which hospitals they went to
to know on the way there that twin sister is gone
because you don’t feel her soul next to yours anymore
to watch a policeman speak what you already know while he is trying not to cry
do not tell me it is not terror
when father comes out of surgery, silently looks at you all
looking for the people missing
looks at you and asks where your twin is
and mother is quiet and says nothing so your mouth has to open
you say the worst words you have ever said
“Dad, Stephanie is gone.”
Do not tell me it is not terror
to stand by other sister’s bedside begging for her to come back to you
to sing all of her favorite songs in a desperate attempt for the bullet not to win
to try to cry it out of her heart and take the bullet into your own heart instead
to ask her to please not leave you alone here
do not tell me it is not terror to have the doctors
come out to waiting room to tell you that other sister is gone
that she has left you here alone despite all your begging

you say that a mass shooting is not a terror attack
unless it happens to have a Muslim face behind it
I want to tell you to fuck yourself and wait until you live one.


11 Replies to “Terror Attack or Shooting? – A Poem”

  1. Laurie, I stand with you. I’m so sorry for what this triggers inside you and you are so right. It is terror. What you went through, what so many others have gone through, it’s unfair, it sucks beyond words and it’s an attempt to instill terror in us all. I’m with you. ❤

  2. What really pisses me off is the politicization coming from anti-regulation folk. They demand that others not “politicize” the tragedy, yet waste no opportunity to claim that had somebody else present been armed, lives could have been saved. What rubbish. For one thing, no one knows quite how a firefight would go between a crazed shooter and an average citizen who may or may not have the training or the level head to confront such a person. For another thing, when exactly is a good time to talk about why we have so many shootings in this country or what can be done to reduce their likelihood? Oh, and of course, when the crime is racially motivated or driven by hatred of those with differing sexual orientation or whatever, we’re not allowed to call it terrorism even though it is. No, “terrorism” is only reserved for Muslims and people our government doesn’t like. Well, our government supposedly doesn’t like bigots, so when one murders a bunch of innocent people, why not apply the label?

    Sorry; I don’t mean to go off on a tear like this, but mass shootings are now an almost daily event and it sickens and outrages me that we keep repeating the same cycle of silence.

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