Martha Collins

October 25, 2020 Collins Martha





America    more guns    more    than us
Bullets    bullets    bullets    bullets    more
Children in school    boy in park    no sorrow
Dead in her yard    his car    no sorrow like
Exit while being    Black    gone without



February 2012
oughta be a law
against we gotta stand
up for justice how many
justices one for you and
even if a witness stand
your ground
stand stood should
he have stayed in his
what kind of case is that a brief
case of life what kind of ground
that can’t be walked on back
from a store with candy
something with un
in it something
to use to stand
against a person of
standing to un
a boy of




August 2019


El Paso    at least 20    a manifesto    Hispanic

invasion      a mother shielding    now 22

her baby    the father    a 90-year-old


Dayton    at least 9    patrons inside

& outside a bar    now 10    including

the killer    had made a kill list


Midland Odessa    at least 5      shooting

while driving    the killer had failed

a background check    now 8



driving home from the grocery store with his girlfriend
facing the cop with his hands up, stop don’t shoot
a woman who’d been a man, for being a woman
Blacks for being Black, Muslims . . . Jews . . .
a gang member shot by a gang member shot by a gang
a gang member raised in a high-crime neighborhood
suffered years of abuse, a restraining order
woke with a gun pressed to the back of her neck
on her first day of school, with her sister, by her father
by her 2-year-old, who found the gun in her purse
himself, with a rented gun at a target practice
himself, had lost his job, could not support
himself, herself, themselves for being somewhere
by someone, someone else, themselves, a gun


Remember our people killed by guns

we have more guns than people

Remember our 100 people killed each day

the shot and injured

Remember our 1000 killed each year by police

a quarter Black

Remember our children and youth

a mother whose son

Remember she said they say remember us

Martha Collins’s eleventh volume of poetry is Casualty Reports (Pittsburgh, 2022); her tenth, Because What Else Could I Do (Pittsburgh, 2019), won the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. Her fifth volume of co-translated Vietnamese poetry is Dreaming the Mountain by Tuệ Sỹ, with Nguyen Ba Chung (Milkweed, 2023).  Collins founded the U.Mass. Boston creative writing program and taught at Oberlin College for ten years.