(28 Stories)

Prompted By Danger

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What can be more dangerous


WHO can be more dangerous




I used to kill insects when I was little,

(still do at times (but I’m working on it))

Once, when I was a teacher, I had to march 

10 blocks up a West Orange Township hill,

because of a bomb-threat,      

with a beautiful batch of second-graders.


The ones who dawdled the most

would’ve been killed right away

had the bomb exploded,

you know the ones, 

shoe untied, flower-finder, outside-lover,

has no idea what a ‘bomb-threat even means second grader…

Only God can make a child such as this,


We’ve hidden in coat racks, utility rooms,

We turned the lights on, then off,

The shades up, then down,

Had the police escort us 

through barren hallways or fire doors,

Barricaded ourselves under gym equipment

and cold winter coats,

Turned red in the face from holding our breaths in,

swallowing any sound as harmless as our names.


There are so many guns in America you could line

them up from Puerto Rico to Hawaii.

You could trip over them 

and cast the fate of all you love

to sudden-death or abolished blood-lines.


The chances of a deranged killer 

being in possession of one of these guns

is extremely high, especially in America.

There is nothing more dangerous than this.

The chances of second-graders cut down

in the middle of a board game, a Science Fair,

a springtime presentation, a poetry event –

is the slaughter of the purest form of innocence

in a loser’s  mindplay of contempt.


A person who can kill another 

is the most dangerous being on earth.


Last time I checked Hitler still holds the record.

What’s that saying?  If Not Now, When?


Profile photo of Patricia Valese pattyv

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. This is a nicely crafted “cri de coeur.” Yes: what could be more dangerous, more reckless, than the situation in which our own society has placed itself?

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    I totally agree, Patty (and as Dale said, this a “cri de coeur”, we are crying now). We live in very dangerous times.

    But you also reminded that exactly 10 years ago today, I was standing on Heartbreak Hill (the 21 mile mark), waiting for a friend to run by, when a woman came out the crowd, having received a text from her brother, a firefighter at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He said a bomb went off. She asked if I knew anything more, but I’d been standing there for an hour without my phone. I knew nothing, but raced one block to my home, turned on the TV to see the horrific events unfold in real time, as texts and phone calls poured in to me, knowing that I go to watch the race every year (no longer – now it is so secure that it is no longer fun, much as I understand the need for it; I’ve heard helicopters overhead all day, the marathon is on Monday). The world has been crazy for a long time. The MAGA crowd just poured fuel on the fire.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    A beautiful and devastating poem Patty. What does it say when we cannot protect our children and we have to traumatize them with our efforts to do so? They are coming into a difficult world and learning it all too early.

  4. Thanx Patty for your impassioned poem.
    Today on the news we heard a right-wing legislator say the solution to school shootings is simply to arm the teachers.

    Might his next suggestion be simply to arm the second-graders?

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    You expressed the greatest danger of our times so eloquently, Patty. As a former educator (preschool director) I really identified with your description of the innocence of young children being subjected to danger and having to practice what to do and where to go. At some point, we had to add those drills to our preschool repertoire in addition to Windy Weather (tornado) and fire drills. We tried not to strike fear into the hearts of those kids, but by the time they got to elementary school, there was no way to fool them.

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    This is a very touching depiction of the fear we must all live with in the US of GOP. You express the fright and dismay beautifully.

    Long ago I worked in a company in Cambridge, MA. We were financially troubled, as our entire industry was contracting like a nascent black hole, and eventually we closed completely; I was one of the people still there on the last day. Five years later, our head of HR, the one who had hired and laid me off three times, was one of the victims in a workplace mass shooting. Her name was Cheryl.

    • pattyv says:

      Dave, ever since I wrote about the drills in school, I’ve been besieged with death-by-shooting. It’s all around us, I actually have friends who don’t want to go anywhere. Dave, the year 2000, and the entire story could’ve been written yesterday, including the AK-47 variant. Unlike most protestors, I am totally against guns. As far as I’m concerned any form of fireworks that can hurt innocent people in any which way, needs to go, no exceptions, why? There’s no reason for it, except to harm, even in defense. We’re better than this, we could create so much more. Yes, it’s all mental illness in someway, but so what?, I’ve had my share, you probably did too. Earth isn’t an easy planet to maneuver. McDermott hated himself in the end as probably they all do, and that’s why your friend had die?? 34 shot at a party and no one knows who? A boy rang the wrong doorbell yesterday, and was shot twice in the head, a young 20 something NewYorker turned into the wrong driveway by mistake yesterday and now she’s dead. IT’S THE GUNS DAVE, I’m so sorry for your loss.

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