I remember reading a story about an entire town
That gathered every year
to stone one of their own to death.
An annual ritual,
A sacrifice,
Even if a child won the lottery.

But it was just a story, right?
This could never really happen.

My father was 20 years old
When the army called him up.
A dark and slender Italian-American
Muscles taut from early mornings in his father’s garden
And from pushing the heavy wooden beam of the wine press
Round and round, harder and harder,
Until the skin and seeds turned to concrete.
Too good a training sergeant to send overseas,
He marched thousands of miles
In the hot Alabama sun
And sent hundreds of young soldiers off to fight.
He begged to go with them, volunteering for every mission.
Three times he was allowed to flip a coin.
Three times he lost.
Three buddies never came home.
Only with his final breath
Did my father release the heavy weight
Of the survivor guilt he had carried his whole life.
Who won this lottery?

I remember a family party,
Standing with all the moms,
Not really listening,
When suddenly one of my aunts
Leaned down, shook her finger in my face,
And said, “Debbie, never have male children.”
Three years separated each of their sons.
My brother Tom was 14.
My cousin Gary was 17.
And Dale was 20,
Old enough to be eligible for the lottery,
With the others close behind.
Dale had carrot-colored hair and freckles.
He was our cool cousin.
Just married to Joey,
A Goldie Hawn look-alike
Who was even cooler,
Dale spent three years in Vietnam,
Missed the birth of his carrot-topped son,
And came home changed.
Many of his friends never came home.
Had he won or lost this lottery?

Images of school children
Huddled in classroom closets,
Listening to the piercing sounds
Of rapid fire
Shattering glass and
Ricocheting off hallway lockers,
Haunt my mind.
Younger than the youngest soldiers,
They endure the unearthly cries
Of their fallen friends.
Those elected to preserve and protect
Choose to preserve and protect
The guns
Rather than the children.
Without any conscience or morality
They enter our babies
In this deadly lottery.
No one wins.

These are just stories, right?
This could never really happen.


Debra Rose Brillati
March 2018



2 thoughts on “The Lottery

  1. I taught The Lottery to eighth graders. Harsh some believed, but I believed it necessary to always question–even traditions. Thank you for this thought on “The Lottery.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s