Lockdown October 5, 2022

now on full lockdown
this is not a drill
Snapchat erupts with unfounded rumours
sadistic humors
we churn like a cumulus
count death with a calculus
huddle in a corner
as the room burns warmer
we text
while the hunter stalks a kill
a next target, a next thrill
a next body hardened to a chill
a next future robbed of will

crying eyes in the room
search empty air for truth
quivering lips, anxious breaths
despair rises, fear of death
nervous bravado, young men beating chests
whatcha gon’ do
whatcha gon’ do
when it goin’ down
maybe me
maybe you
maybe too late for cryin’
maybe everybody dyin’
maybe hope is gone
waiting for help is so, so long

footsteps in the hall
screams for jesus
please, jesus
and parents
help, mama
and regrets that tear the inner soul
so sorry, so very, very sorry, so

the crushing metal sound of law enforcement
gun barrels come through the door
get to your feet
hands above your head
will we soon be dead
all clear, but something shouts defeat


they load us in buses
like trains to the death camps
where are we going
single file unloading
check the rosters now
into the bleachers now
we become numbers
number and number
like waiting in an unclaimed baggage terminal
will anyone take us home
as the sun burns our sweaty eyes
hours pass by
til finally free
and we stare like zombies in disbelief
go home
god bless
try to get some rest
see you tomorrow
the parting sounds of play
but we were educated today

About the Poem

On October 5, 2022, multiple schools across South Carolina were placed on lockdown when a prank caller initiated ‘active shooter’ calls to local law enforcement. This is an experience from inside one of these lockdowns. The event lasted over six hours.

About the Author

Dale Hensarling is an artist, composer, and writer living in South Carolina with his wife, puppies, and a parrot named ‘Pongo’. He teaches English.

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