A Proud and Gentle Nation
As citizens we declare our purity of thought and action
As we decry the terrible deaths
Of barbaric cruelty meted out by the Muslim extremists.
A line of fire crawling toward a caged man dressed
In an orange suit,
His screams as the flames envelop him;
Knives sawing at the unprotected throats
Of innumerable hostages dressed in other orange suits.
How easily we have forgotten our past barbarities to minorities;
Waco, Texas, 1916, and the death of Jesse Washington, aged 17,
A mentally challenged young black man dragged from jail
After a two-hour trial for the murder of a white woman,
a farmer’s wife.
Jesse worked for the farmer.
They put a chain around his neck, lit a bonfire beneath him,
Cut off his fingers when he tried to climb the chain.
A man came forward and castrated him
Jesse was raised and lowered
Raised and lowered again and again into the leaping flames
To the screaming approval of 16,000 onlookers
16,000 white faces watching with atavistic joy
As Jesse finally expired in agony.
The photos of the hanging, blackened corpse,
were made into postcards
And sold to be kept in family albums
For 99 years.
The lynchings and burnings continued well into the 1960’s
Until finally we could all relax and forget,
remind ourselves (by comparison )
what GOOD people we Americans are!
And what cruel evil bastards the jihads are,
How very different from us!
Before we can condemn others
we must first recognize and condemn ourselves for past horrors
That we may learn to truly exercise the mercy
poetryrepairs #236 v17.04:047
Another Syrian Child
The sea nibbles gently at the shore,
kisses lightly the small crumpled body
lying at its edge as if asleep.
A child, a boy of three, neatly dressed--
relaxed hands half cupped behind him,
one cheek pressed against the sand,
dark hair slightly disheveled,
the soles of his sturdy shoes (a little large,
bought that way so his feet could grow)
turned toward the camera.
He and his five year-old brother
were going to sanctuary
with their desperate parents.
anywhere that would receive them,
refugees from a hellish war
that has no ending—
Children born into an existence
that had never known peace.
Their small boat capsized on the way to another life
and only the father survived.
He returned to Syria to bury his family.
Two more small deaths of Syrian children
and their hapless mother--
a heartbreaking photograph.
But this time the image
of that one small death would shake
a once blasé world into a terrible awareness.
poetryrepairs #236 v17.04:047
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SUE LITTLETON. I have been a fan of Sue Littleton since I first met her and started reading her poetry.
...."Thank God for Sue and her Wonderful Poetry" and her insight into the humanity of us all and the
little forgotten beauties around us. The emotions we so often can not express...she can...simply and beautifully.
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