Response Poem to America is a Gun

America is a Gun by Brian Bilston

England is a cup of tea.

France, a wheel of ripened brie.

Greece, a short, squat olive tree.

America is a gun.

Brazil is football on the sand.

Argentina, Maradona’s hand.

Germany, an oompah band.

America is a gun.

Holland is a wooden shoe.

Hungary, a goulash stew.

Australia, a kangaroo.

America is a gun.

Japan is a thermal spring.

Scotland is a highland fling.

Oh, better to be anything

than America as a gun.



Response to Brian Bilston’s America is a Gun

“Bystanders killed by bullets not specifically intended for them have long been

a very small part of the homicide problem.” (Journal of Quantitative Criminology)


Bystanders have been a small

part of homicide problem;

how dare they keep jumping in

front of those stray bullets.


America IS a gun.

Three hundred and twenty one

people are shot ev’ry day,

ninety unintentionally.

America IS a gun.

Some are only bystanders;

fathers, mothers, son, daughters,

grandfathers, and grandmothers.

America IS a gun.

Innocents shot while driving,

sitting, standing, and sleeping;

talking, visiting, and walking.

America IS a gun.

Others are shot while shopping,

at the movies, concerts, and

clubs, or while going to school.

America IS a gun.

We do nothing to fix this,

stymied while the next bullet

Flies at the next “untarget.”


Per one hundred thousand people,

eighteen countries suffer the loss

of half a person to shootings.

Then there's Chile; then there's US.*

*Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation



Post a Comment


  1. Thank you Ed for this. Yes, it is one of the may sad situations in this country, I totally agree on this. Your response is awesome and right on target, so to speak...

  2. Hi Ed—Here is my poetic response to “America is a Gun”

    Sic Parvis Magna

    To say America’s symbol is a gun is as shocking
    as blowing the head off The Statue of Liberty
    or blasting the Liberty Bell to smithereens
    with an AK-47, and while you’re at it,
    you might as well spend a couple hundred rounds
    disfiguring The Lincoln Memorial, just hack away at it,
    not much good to you now that you’ve attained the status
    of Country-where-one-is-most-likely-to-be-gunned-down-
    Every shot fired blasts holes in Baseball and Apple Pie
    and White Picket Fences and anything you ever saw
    as good and true and American,
    because although these may still exist for you,
    they live under the shadow of an object
    that has grown so large and risen so high
    as to capture the world's attention
    and there’s nothing you can do about that.

    Or is there?

  3. Hey, Julie. That's a strong response! Thanks for sharing that. I wish there was an "is there" but the people who can do something are the only ones who can answer that question. Frustrating that it's so hard for the everyday Joes and Joans to influence serious change.

  4. Steeling Your Love

    The Remington that made my typewriter
    Formed firearms from the same earth treasures,
    Mined and shipped and molded for battlefields
    On our land and in our minds, exploding
    What we know of sovereign identity,
    Forged steel twirled into hot trajectories
    Forged into letters that give shape to voice
    Messages challenging our right to be
    Here or somewhere, vessels destined
    To return to earth, where hope and history
    Might rhyme or die, where love and light
    Might light the fuse of imagination.
    What cold metal would you have in your hand?
    How would it shape your love for this, our land?

    From the Britannica:

    “[I]n 1867, the American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes read an article in the journal Scientific American describing a new British-invented machine and was inspired to construct what became the first practical typewriter. His second model, patented on June 23, 1868, wrote at a speed far exceeding that of a pen. It was a crude machine, but Sholes added many improvements in the next few years, and in 1873 he signed a contract with E. Remington and Sons, gunsmiths, of Ilion, New York, for manufacture.”

  5. Totally awesome. Love the steel parallel. Great stuff.

  6. Sandy what an interesting origin tale, the discovery that bullets and typewriters come from the same material, the same company even. I love the phrase “ where hope or history might rhyme or die”. Well done!