By Jamar Jackson
10th grade, Kenwood Academy, IL
First place contest winner

With lines from "One Bullet Can Kill, but It Takes More Than 100 People To Save a Gunshot Victim’s Life” by James Sprankle, Paige Skinner, Kate Bubacz, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

August’s summer reminisces of
A sweltering breeze of death
That creeps into the evening.
That hurls into the right side of my chest. That flows straight through and
back to St. Louis and drifts down to Baltimore.
That hurls into another brown boy’s leg,
That pounds into another one’s shoulder,
That hopefully won’t pierce another one between the eyes.

The breeze lingers through the hole in my chest
As if it penetrated my brown skin One Hundred times,
Before long I’m slightly eased by the cold sweats
And I feel numb to the sweltering breeze.

By the time the hole is tended to,
Ten Sets of Hands chase what’s left of the breeze through the city
While another Ten hold firmly to my wound,
Enduring the gusts emerging from the breeze’s work of art

By the time the sweltering breeze has swung open the hospital doors,
Ten Sets of Hands frisk me, hoping to discover
Whether I ran with or against the breeze,
While another Ten lay me out on a stretcher
Hastily, so to outrun the cold sweats
Before they drain me of my last bit of life.

By the time I’m inside the trauma bay,
Ten Sets of Hands have cut my clothes
And located the bullet hole,
Another Ten get my blood pressure and insert an IV,
While another Ten put me on a ventilator.
Nothing except the memory of the breeze lingers,
The whistle before it struck me,
The burning I felt,
The flash.

By the time I’m able to speak,
Ten Sets of Hands pick my brain,
Ten Sets of Hands are preparing medication,
And the last Ten make a phone call,
Bracing the might of horrific shrieks and cries of anger and desperation.

It astonishes me
That such a fatal breeze
Blows so much that
It’s almost like background noise

Jamar Jackson is currently a rising junior at Kenwood Academy in Chicago, IL. He is an artist that explores poetry/spoken word and visual art and expresses his philosophies and mind through his work. As a published author, Jamar tells stories in his poetry that reflect his personal experiences as well as what can be reflected where he's grown up, on the South Side of Chicago. He is a part of Kenwood's spoken word team where he has carried that talent to other writers within the school and even across the city. He is a Youth Art Board member in Hyde Park and promotes creative expression in the community and other teen groups. Jamar is thankful to underscore the issue of gun violence--an issue relevant to Chicago's South Side--and take the reader on a ride of what it's like to fall victim to it during the most dangerous time of the year: the summertime.

Read more winning entries from the 2022 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.