As Bodies Fall by Benjamin Wexler
2018 winner: Grades 10 to 12 category
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.
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,
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.