josiah johnson – “Orlando”

Josiah Johnson
12th Grade
Saint Peter, MN


Have you ever woken up to get the blues
Were you ever so depressed as today when you saw the news
‘Cause at night I wonder “why aren’t they alive”
Unable to sleep, I need  the answer to arrive
Times like these, our future seems bleak,
Staring at the ceiling, answers I seek.
I know, that when we come together we can brave any storm
We will not let this be the norm.
Now is when we take to the streets
This is how we bring about peace.
United and unbreaking this journey will be painstaking,
But we know it is one worth making
As one we march towards a better tomorrow
We shall build one not filled with such sorrow
Tonight is the time to thank God we are alive
Tomorrow we may not have that chance
You have to be bold,
You have to remove your blindfold.
A welcome view awaits you
A thousand beams of love have broken through.


     “I’ve grown up seeing “the deadliest mass shooting” flash across the TV every few years. Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, The Pulse, Las Vegas. When driving through Connecticut recently, my family drove past an exit ramp with a sign pointing toward Newtown.  Upon seeing this sign my father began to weep, his hand shot out and grasped mine tightly, as if he were trying to stop it from bleeding. In that moment, I realized several things: first, that the emotional wounds of these shootings are deep and still very real; and second, that my father’s response stems from the same emotions many had upon hearing what had happened in Sandy Hook, only their responses were significantly different. Whereas my father held me close, others bought a gun out of fear.  And so, so many people simply did nothing.

     The notion that more guns will equal fewer deaths is naive.  But my point isn’t to champion a specific response to gun violence; rather, it’s that we all have to respond somehow.  We can’t just keep doing nothing. It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would commit such acts of terror or why some people’s response wouldn’t be that of love and restrictions, so, I looked back on my own life to find answers.

     Throughout my life, I’ve had multiple opportunities to add my voice to the call for change in the world. I’ve marched the streets of downtown St. Paul to the Minnesota state capitol for the climate and Black, Native, and Hispanic lives. I’ve wanted to dedicate my life to fostering the kind of change our world needs. In this spirit, I did what I could: I created, and I loved:  I wrote a poem that I believe shows some hope for the future.”

-Josiah Johnson