Sam’s Deli: A Remembrance

“Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957 

Sam’s Deli

the minute you walked in

the aroma of fresh baked Italian bread

linked you to Tuscany

and the faint scent of salami and


mesmerized your senses.

Sam greeted everyone

with a magnificent smile

and by the count of five

he was spreading mayo

on the long skinny roll

just the way you liked it.

he layered the cold cuts


his technique never failed

to produce the best sandwich

Everyone loved Sam

and of course  his sandwiches.

One day, after school

Joe, his brother walked into the deli

just like he had done everyday for many years.

This time he found Sam dead

laying behind the meat slicer counter.

he had been shot in the head.

He could not believe his eyes;

that moment changed his life forever.

No one had seen anything nor heard a thing.

This was the first of many murders to come.

Killing or shootings were not as prevalent then

I was barely ten

but the images I imagined of Sam that afternoon

stayed with me all my life.

I remember Sam and his great smile.

I bet he smiled at his killer.

The killer that got away with $35.00 cash.

Life is so fragile and for some

worth so little.

We must continue to fight

for putting an end to gun violence.

I do not know why

I thought about Sam today

but I do know

Life is precious

and certainly worth

advocating for non-violence.

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