A Few Words About Gun Violence: View Of The Earth Through the Dscovr Telescope by Bill Meissner

Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.

In poetry we find a curious affiliation between words and the empty-white space (silence) surrounding words. Both words and silence have power to touch our hearts, enlighten, and transform us, as well as oppositional power to wound, devastate, and even kill. Whether words and the silences surrounding them are helpful/healing or hurtful/wounding depends on where they come from. When we speak, or refrain from speaking, are we motivated by a reptilian fear and defensive reaction, to guard what’s ours? Or are we seeking a place of higher consciousness and nobler intention, to share our best gifts? Bill Meissner’s poem, “A Few Words About Gun Violence: View Of The Earth Through The DSCOVR Telescope,” does not politicize the issue of gun violence. In recognizing the actuality and the history of mass shootings, the poem does not ask readers to to take a stand, to rally against legislation, or to call for change. Instead, it does the work of poetry–it connects one thing (looking through a telescope at earth from a million miles away) to another (looking at targets through the sightline of a rifle). And then it sits with us like a good friend, allowing us to think and feel whatever we happen to think and feel. This poem is a gentle invitation. It shows us the earth through the DSCOVR Telescope, and then it asks us to wonder who and where we are.

Tracy Rittmueller
Video Produced by Wayne Nelsen
“A Few Words About Gun Violence”

A Few Words About Gun Violence: View Of The Earth Through The DSCOVR Telescope
Bill Meissner

From a million miles away, it looks too blue:
perfectly rounded, haloed with graceful spirals of cumulus,
its continents drifting away from each other
like lovers that long to touch again.
But on its surface,
a person lifts a weapon,
cradles it between a thumb and index finger,
contemplates the black hole
at the end of its long, sleek barrel.

The motive is always a little cloudy, yet incidents repeat themselves:
in malls, in theaters, in dance clubs, in schools, in schools.
No one can explain why. It’s something
to do with whatever it is that spins,
so red and angry, inside someone’s skull.

There is no sound in the vacuum of outer space.
But here, some days, you can hear it, so close to you,
in the electronics aisle of a Wal-Mart.
Employees in the stock room look up, startled
by a hollow popping sound that reminds them
of a light bulb rolling off the edge
of a shelf.

From a million miles away, the earth looks blue as gunmetal–
it’s that same color we see from our back yards
when we tip our heads to the afternoon sky
and stare beyond those swirling clouds
that hide so much pain.


Author and teacher Bill Meissner has won numerous awards for his writing, including PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Awards and The Midwest Book Award. He is the author of three books of fiction and five books of poetry, most recently The Mapmaker’s Dream. He has taught creative writing at St. Cloud State University, and, as a visiting writer he frequently presents workshops at local elementary schools, high schools and colleges. He lives in St. Cloud with his wife Christine. He was featured last year on Lyricality’s blog: “The Mapmaker’s Dream: Bill Meissner on Measuring the World Precisely, to Establish Connection Between Us.”

"A Few Words About Gun Violence: 
View of the Earth Through The DSCOVR Telescope" 
from The Mapmaker's Dream 
by Bill Meissner, Finishing Line Press 
(© 2019). Appears here with the permission 
of the author. All rights reserved.
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