Fort Myers (Fla.) athlete pens touching poem urging end to violence, silence

Violence and silence

There are a lot of guns, drugs, and violence 

People get killed everyone knows but when it comes to testifying they’re silent 

Where I come from 

You shoot before you swing, you sleep but you don’t dream

You keep your mouth shut and never say what you’ve seen

Where I come from 

You sell dope to get by, you smoke dope to get high, but dope isn’t the answer sometimes you gotta cry

Where I come from 

Not every murder makes the news

You stay up all night because if you snooze you lose

I wish where I came from wasn’t so violent 

I wish where I came from people would speak up and not stay silent

– by Bensley Bornelus, Fort Myers High senior

Bensley Bornelus of Fort Myers lines up to run a route during a recent game (Photo: Amanda Inscore/The News-Press)

Bensley Bornelus of Fort Myers lines up to run a route during a recent game
(Photo: Amanda Inscore/The News-Press)

Bensley Bornelus’ life experience straddles two worlds.

The Fort Myers High School senior wide receiver, a Division-I football prospect, has numerous friends from the predominantly black Dunbar community and others who live along mostly-white McGregor Boulevard.

Bornelus, who was born and raised in Fort Myers to parents who immigrated from Haiti, does not live in either of those places. He lives somewhat in between, near Deleon Street, which he views to be an increasingly dangerous neighborhood.

When his honors English teacher asked the class to write a ballad earlier this year, Bornelus, 18, drew his inspiration from shootings that claimed the lives of two of his good friends.

“It has a lot to do with that,” Bornelus said. “I feel like it’s a danger zone all the time. Last year, I had just finished playing against South Fort Myers, and we had a shooting on Deleon Street, a block away from my house.

“He didn’t die, surprisingly. And a couple of years ago, a couple of guys got killed on the street right next to mine.”

But two shootings this year hit home.

Stef’an Strawder, a club basketball teammate of Bornelus, died from a gunshot wound July 25 on teen night at Club Blu in Fort Myers.

“I still don’t even believe it, even to this day,” Bornelus said.

Lawrence Lockley, a childhood friend and classmate at Dunbar Middle School with Bornelus, died from a gunshot wound in his Fort Myers neighborhood Aug. 28.

“He was a good kid,” Bornelus said. “He used to get in some trouble, but I know the last time I talked to him, earlier this year, he was on the right path. He kept talking about college. He really wanted to go to college.”

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