‘A Word’ For Freedom After The Orlando Shooting – An Editorial, A VIDEO & A Poem

FALMOUTH – In the interest of optimism, it is important to be reminded who actually owns the future.

Until I saw Helena Marschall, 13, perform her poem, “A Word” at a vigil Wednesday on Falmouth Village Green for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, I was feeling more cynical and sad about the future of America than I have in my entire life.

I had recently looked it up and found that Orlando marked 998 mass shootings in America since the Sandy Hook shooting in which 20 first graders, as well as six adults, were massacred in December, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.

Mass shootings are always described as being like war zones.

A vigil after Orlando

Falmouth Village Green gathering after the violence in Orlando.

So that is almost 1,000 war zones in America in less than four years. Frankly, I was not feeling inspired by another vigil.

But I wandered over and while adults gave speeches and sang songs that were comforting on some level, it was this 13-year-old girl reciting her original poem with the passion of a 1960s civil rights leader that caught my attention.

Afterward, I reached Helena by phone and discovered her poem was actually a winning poem in a recent Lawrence School slam poetry contest. Helena is in eighth grade.

“The organizer of the event emailed my English teacher in school looking for someone to speak at the event,” said Helena.

The event was organized by No Place For Hate, a Falmouth community organization combating bias and promoting respect for all people.

A vigil after Orlando

Falmouth Village Green

Helena said her poem is “about the power of words, and freedom of speech.”

“I talk a lot in school,” she explained. “Words are important to me.”

Her poem was moving, and her performance was mesmerizing. She said that afterwards, people came up to her and thanked her. Some were crying, she said.

I totally understand.

I started recording this video halfway through her performance. Here is Helena’s complete poem:

A Word

by Helena Marschall

What is a word?

What’s in a word?

If you look in the book Filled with words.

Ask Miriam,

Ms.Webster will tell you.

A sound

Or combination of sounds

With a meaning

That is spoken

A vigil after Orlando

A vigil after Orlando

or written

Is that all?

Isn’t a word,

a sentence

a phrase.

Isn’t it so much more?

Worth so much more?

What can a word do?

What can a word change?

As I sit and listen a slight drip, drip, drip starts.

A word just coming out,

Here and there,

Like a tap someone forgot to turn off

maybe one that doesn’t turn off.

In a bathroom with a window

A window looking out on a field of flowers

Still wet with morning dew.

That drip,

That word can do so much bad.

That little drip from within me could change

How you

Or I

A vigil after Orlando

Falmouth Village Green during Wednesday’s vigil after the Orlando shooting.

Of society thinks about themselves

About each other

and the world that they live in.

That drip can burrow deep inside their souls

And can do so much good.

Can change people forever

Can change how people live their lives

How they walk the path

And how they interact


With each other.

Or not, but at least that drip is out there,

Where it has the chance

The chance to turn slowly into a stream

Words like facade

Or flabbergast

Or fuji

Can join that stream

can get the chance to turn into a roaring river of thought

Of change

Words like



Or Banana

Can Join the ocean of ideas

Those Ideas can become a tsunami

of change

of thinking.

They can,

most won’t

But they can

they have the chance

To bring about change

That’s what counts.

And maybe small change in one person is just as important.

Maybe if I affect one of you tonight

It’s important.

We all have the chance

That our drip drip becomes a tsunami

In this country we like to call the us of a

We all have the chance and no one can stop us

We talk and chat

We address

We have the chance to make a harangue.

We have the chance we should

each and every one of us should

Count ourselves lucky that we have this chance

Because others don’t

They get Squashed like

Helena Marschall

Helena Marschall recites her poem, “A Word” at a Falmouth vigil for victims of the Orlando shooting.

Irrelevant, but annoying flies

Buzzing around our heads

When we squish those flies

When we extinguish that flame

We set the whole food web out of balance.

A word released into that vast ocean

Can cause innocent


Ready-to sea-the-world-heads

to be punctured with bullet holes

that no word of sorry can ever undo.

But you see,

Squishing those flies

It Won’t work

Because every time

Every time you try to dam the river

Every time hundreds of new cracks will appear

Because no one no one can can stop that drop of water from having a chance.

No one can stop Ideas.

About the author

Brian Tarcy

Brian Tarcy is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. He is a longtime journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the Cape Cod Times and several other publications. He is the author of "YOU CAN'T SELL RIGHT FIELD; A Cape Cod Novel." He is also the author or co-author of more than a dozen mostly non-fiction books, including books with celebrity athletes Cam Neely, Tom Glavine and Joe Theisman. His previous book was, "ALMOST: 12 Electric Months Chasing A Silicon Valley Dream" with Hap Klopp,who created the iconic brand, The North Face.
For more information, see
Brian is a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan with a long-running NFL predictions/political satire column connecting weekly world events to the fate of his favorite team, now at

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