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I remember learning 

a typical museum visitor 

spends an average of 15 seconds looking at a work of art.

I stop not to graze

But feast in your eyes.

In this graveyard of lives cut short

I am stopped by the silence of your black matter,

that gentle lilt of the head.

Your gaze sears through 

to the part of my brain that whispers stop.

That cries stop.

That pleads 


I am sorry that no one was there 

to shout


To beg Stop 

put down that gun.

I am sorry that I was not there 

to behold  your loving eyes, 

to comfort        that gentle lilt 

of your head, the last 

15 seconds of your life.

Tobie Hoffman  Feb 20, 2022

Written in the workshop My Soul to Yours: A Poetry Workshop with Cathy Cohen based on the Soul Shots Souls Shot Portrait Project: Portraits of Victims of Gun Violence at  Beth Am Israel Congregation Penn Valley PA

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