For Matthew

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Sally Crossthwaite.

Content Warning: gun violence, mass shooting

Laurie Works is a homeschool alum, community organizer, and spoken word poet. She is also a mass shooting survivor. In December 2007, two of her sisters, Rachel and Stephanie Works, died during the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs. This poem is her reply to the shooter, Matthew Murray, who was also homeschooled. 

Sometimes I feel like we are two sides of the same coin
some people call you the bad penny
just because it landed tails up
they say it’s bad luck.
We could have had the same parents
we were homeschooled, using the same books
from the same publishers
we both learned that evolution was a lie
that the earth was created 6,000 years ago
maybe that’s why we both had such a hard time progressing
100 miles apart, we did the same training
they told us God loved us
I heard voices and gave prophecies
they said you heard voices too
but those voices were the different ones
same coin other side
we both had demons haunting us
mine just were clothed in angel’s skin
at least you knew yours clearly
it took our lives colliding for me to fully see mine.
We collided in one moment
somehow that moment always felt like it would happen
I wonder if you must have felt that too
I wonder if you were pulled by the same invisible thread
the world knows you as the man who murdered my sisters
I know you as someone across the gulf of the same canyon
both of us were just trying to figure out how to get across
you sprayed bullets trying to build a bridge of mettle
and when the bridge wouldn’t hold
you built it instead to the other side.
I have been trying to build a bridge of mettle ever since
trying to finish the job you started without using violence as tool
but it’s hard when I’ve always been shooting myself in the foot
what good is a bridge when you can’t walk across it
what good is a bridge that you constantly tear down.
Matthew.
Your name means gift of God
sometimes I think that’s true while other days I want to run
from the darkness I see behind your imagined eyes
on the day the voices we heard collided
I want you to know I saw them too
the demons you were so acquainted with
i’ve been living with them for almost 8 years now
maybe they don’t erupt the same
I never turned my violence outward
always loaded my gun and turned it on myself
This year, I’m learning
that just because a coin isn’t lucky doesn’t mean it’s a bad penny
that some bridges aren’t built out of mettle
what bridges heaven and earth
is made of our most vital organ
my sister’s hearts that your metal bullets ripped through
is the bridge I now cross over
it’s not so much a bridge but a surrender
to the air between the chasm
If I’m the side of the coin that’s heads up
it’s because you were my heads up
it’s because you showed me
that strength isn’t built from violence
and the ways in which I’ve assaulted myself
Strength is made of heart melting into void
coming out the other side
like a black hole makes new stars
I’m coming out the other side
I’ll take you with me.
Maybe these new voices will sing back
and tell you what you were made of
even pennies were made strong by copper melting in a fire.

9 comments

  • This is such a powerful and profound piece.

  • Pingback: For Matthew – A Poem to the Man Who Killed My Sisters | Laurie Works

  • So much beauty from you, as always, Laurie. You are extra-ordinary! I love you!

  • Wow. Just wow. Thank you for sharing this amazing piece!

  • Laurie, my wonderful sunshine, *hugs* you are truly a wonderful and amazing person. This poem gave me so many shivers and feels. As always, I’m so intrigued by your insight and perception of the world, and I’m grateful to have read this. Thank you, and take gentle care of yourself my friend.

  • What a shame no one ever saw Matthew’s distress in time to friggin’ get him OUT OF THAT CRAZY HOUSEHOLD ! I do remember reading in the papers about this case, and thought man ! What a terrible waste and tragedy ! Should I ever become aware of some kid going through what this boy did, I will help him flee. I kind of suspect he shot the kids at that place because they represented to him that denomination he was trapped in, and he had no job or money source to assist him in leaving all that looniness and ABUSE behind him. Involved with that psychotic Kevin Swanson on top of it all. We should be watching in our towns for potential Matthews out there, and intervene to rescue them before a repeat of this situation occurs.

  • Reblogged this on freewillisntfree and commented:
    This is the most striking poem I have read for a long time, from the survivor of a mass shooting in Colorado, Laurie Works replies to the murderer of her two sisters. Take the time to read it.

  • This is the most striking poem I’ve read for a very long time, I have re-blogged if you don’t mind. You are admirable and inspirational. Thank you.

  • “Strength is made of heart melting into void” . Laurie, your words here shook me out of my morning coffee daze, after reading about this shooting that was soon lost in the newsfeeds of other shootings ( but made painfully real by your heartfelt description and story) ; shook me into a clearing; I didnt expect the words on a site that mostly concerns Christian homeschooling to echo what little I understand of the Heart Sutra, the most revered text in Mahayana Buddhism. When you collapse the distance across that canyon, between you and the person who brought enormous pain and fear to your life, you strengthen everyone struggling to forgive those who acted in ways we’d give anything to forget.

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