Books·Shakespeare Selfie

As Bodies Fall by Benjamin Wexler

In the voice of Mercutio from Romeo & Juliet, Benjamin Wexler writes about mass shootings and gun culture.

2018 winner: Grades 10 to 12 category

Benjamin Wexler is a 15-year-old high school student from Montreal, Que. (Submitted by Benjamin Wexler)

Benjamin Wexler is the Grades 10 to 12 winner of the 2018 Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge. This annual writing competition challenges students to write a soliloquy or monologue in the voice of a Shakespearean character based on a prominent news, pop culture or current affairs event from the last year (April 2017 to April 2018).

Wexler, who attends Herzliah High School in Montreal, Que., wrote about mass shootings and gun culture from the perspective of Romeo & Juliet's Mercutio.

As Bodies Fall tackles gun culture and mass shootings from the perspective of Romeo & Juliet's Mercutio. Benjamin Wexler won the Grades 10 to 12 category of the 2018 Shakespeare Selfie student writing challenge.

What pixie ushers summer mist o'er judgement 
Whilst judgements' lightning arcs from angry clouds? 
Infatuation, wicked muse, bites deep. 
Fickle devotion for flesh is soon surpassed 
By that for arms, equal in passion's heat. 
The crack of open fire or broken heart 
Both hurt; but tools are more injurious than 
The simple prick of rising disillusion. 

The blind lover so petrified to lose 
The definition of the other's arms. 
But what is more human than lust and fear? 
So inescapable, so too this plight? 
Look back too long, their lot: water and salt. 
This death, destined and destined to be watched 
By such as me. I was stabbed 'neath the arm 
Of Romeo who could do nought to stop. 
Now phantoms, useless we, with bitter thoughts. 

As bodies fall, the visor lifts, behold! 
Even pastoral Parkland brambles hath. 
Appear gnarled oaks which rustle winters past, 
And ridicule the brush for crying out 
Final desperation: "You blot the light!" 
Watch them wither, and call them Icarus. 

As bodies fall, so too visors descend, 
Condolences are copy pasted, tears 
Are shed untasted, condolences are 
Copy pasted, tears are shed untasted. 
Repeat again, each time breath is wasted. 
Leastwise two-faced Janus keeps eyes on both 
Past and future. Does he foresee an end? 

So count them on my fingers, beat-by-beat. 
Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, 
Aurora Century Theatre, Sandy Hook, 
Orlando Pulse, Las Vegas Harvest Route, 
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sutherland Spring, 
And San Bernardino, 

Still incomplete? 

But how can I keep faith when answer none 
But prayer is proposed to wicked plague? 
Your immobility so statuesque 
'Til frozen, you mirror the Four Faces 
Who disapprovingly stare down the Mount 
Of that past world lost to modernity. 
Pygmalion be, and bring back life from stone. 
A time comes to (as is said) call b.s. 
Just as a time will come to vote them out. 

Stand up, chicks, budding pups, futures find voice 
Cocoon, now bloodstained hallways, open split 
And herald wider metamorphosis 
Die not on barren ground of parents' loins 
Lay change's fruitful seed, courage I lacked 
Thy fervour stoked, maintained and still scald hot, 
'Til deeds be molten smelt from word and thought. 
The script of transformation wrought and writ 
Upon the future's chrysalis should last, 
Find more than pushing daisies of the past.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?