Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Against the Unspeakable

Children writhe and scream
on cold hospital floor in Syria
Go still. Exterminated.

Orthodox Jewish virgins
naked, hid tender breasts,
fell shot into pits of Baba Yar.

Emit Til smiled at a white girl,
floated up beaten, bloated. Six
church girls exploded in Bombingham.

Tootsie, Hutu, dead, dead , dead,
crunched under wheels of jeeps
on river roads in Rwanda.

I vomit. Response is limbic,
Deeper than words, Unspeakable.
Shame. I cannot face my reflection

I  know I am of the species of
monsters who. laugh and kill
gloat and justify, dehumanize.

Rage. I am of that species.
Can't deny I imagine Adolf Hitler
handcuffed to a chair, me avenger.

Scimitar to his throat and  smile
on my lips. Howl in my throat,
his blood on my hands. No remorse.

Helplessness. Hitler is long dead by
his own hand. Today's genocidal killers,
psychopaths, monsters, I cannot touch.

I have no power. I can only hide and cower.
Today, tonight tomorrow, they may come
for me and mine. We will simply die.

I wash my face and remember.
my ancestors did not cower and die.
They fled Portugal's Inquisition, started new.

Sewed their gold and jewels into
the hems of their garments, faked a
costume party, chartered a boat,

Shame paralyses. Rage self destructs.
Helplessness is a deadly illusion..
King of Denmark put on the Jewish star.

Paul Kagame saved refugees in Hotel Rwanda
Nelson Mandella persisted in prison.
Rosa Parks sat. Dr. King marched.

Anne Frank wrote her diary, Otto Frank shared it.
Billie Holliday sang out lynchings strange fruit
Aushchwitz survivor wears Jewish star. solid gold.

I will vomit, but will wash my face,  find my feet.
In face of the unspeakable, I will struggle for words.
I will remember love has triumphed and can again.

I will not cower helpless, but will fight back, escape.
I will not be ashamed. but will immortalize the victims.
I will not rage but will organize to prevent, protect.


  1. I wrote this one in response to my husband and writing group member Bob hendricks' prompt about our response to genocide and other horrors. This one kept me up til 3:54 on a work night. Had to get it right enough. I hope caffeine gets me through tomorros.

  2. So very true, so very powerful and gutwrenching, Victoria. Haunting, really. I know how hard this must have been to put to paper. Thank you.

  3. This is SUCH a powerful poem, Victoria. It literally takes my breath away.

  4. Thanks for hte comments, mary and Lynne. And for the prompt Bob. this is the poem that got me poeming again, unstuck the log jam or something. I just went through and tightened it up. I like it better now. I wrote it so raw in the middle of hte night without being able to stop it that it was a little rough.