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First person: 3300 feet per second : Emergency Medicine News


poetry, mass shootings, gun violence


Children are made of sweet flesh and sweet breath.

They are formed by disordered collections of hopes, dreams and delights.

They are dressed every morning in soft clothes to cushion the blows of the world.

They move to the sound of laughter and with the smell of summer.

They leave trails of crumbs and handprints and residues of nostalgia.

Bullets are made of cast or punched lead, sometimes jacketed with hard steel.

They are formed by efficient, high-performance machines called presses, feeders, and primers.

They are packed in boxes, lined up like students in a classroom.

They move with the sound of breaking hearts and with the smell of sulphur.

They leave traces of thoughts and prayers.

What’s left after they collide

at 3300 feet per second?

These children of humanity and of God,


these children of war and industry.

After cataloging distorted fragments

and buried in little boxes,

Once the empty shells are removed,

passed with sorrow.

What will stop? Who will cry out to surrender?

These efficient machines called presses, loaders and primers,


those messy collections of hopes, dreams and delights?

Or will they all just continue



cursed children to collide?

Author’s Note: Gun violence has overtaken motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1-24 since 2017. We emergency physicians are among the few to see the point firsthand. culmination of this epidemic: the consequences of our children’s collision with mass-produced bullets. We must continue to witness.

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Dr Chenis an emergency physician in Oakland, California, where his primary professional interest is working with medically underserved communities. Follow him on Twitter@TheRealYenChen.