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Friday, April 23, 2010


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

When she walked home from school on January 14th
The girls drove by and called her names
Irish slut! Whore! Bitch! Cunt!
One of them threw a full can of Red Bull at her
Phoebe’s twelve year old sister found her hanging in the hall
How do I know these things?
I read the report
Phoebe’s mother washed her clothes
She held her daughter’s jeans and thought: She has such long legs
When did she get so tall?
At South Hadley High, where Phoebe went to school
There was a Winter Cotillion two days after Phoebe’s death, a dance that no one saw fit to cancel
A Student Assistance Counselor had written about the dance in the January school newsletter
She had written that
“…the excitement of New Year’s Eve is followed up by mere weeks by the major winter event which brings out the ADULT in all of our teens…They hit the dance floor with a vengeance! They are totally committed to having a fantastic time.”
Phoebe’s mother holds Phoebe in her hands
Phoebe’s mother passes Phoebe to her father
Phoebe’s sister isn’t tall enough to reach the rope around her neck
At South Hadley High School there are many clubs
There are The Cultural Exchange Club, which “promotes exchange and diversity…”
Irish slut!
The Leo Club, which is “a community service club focused on helping children…”
The can of Red Bull, full
The Peer Leaders Club, which “promotes civility and respect…”
After she died, the mocking of her on Facebook intensified
The Peace Club, which is “open to anyone who wants to learn about and advance the cause of peace, locally and globally.”
A good example of the peace they seek is that place in Ireland where they buried her
Phoebe’s mother reads that two of the girls charged in torturing her daughter made the high school Honors list
Phoebe’s family stands in the cold and looks back
Phoebe’s family holds the pair of jeans that collects knives in the wind off the Atlantic
In the February newsletter of South Hadley High School , someone wrote that
“We were shocked when we got to the field and saw how many people were there. We really didn’t think they had enough time to get the word out…We would also like to thank PILGRIM CANDLE COMPANY for donating 150 candles for this vigil.” (We thought that would be plenty. – WRONG).
I hold my daughter’s jeans
My daughter is one year younger than Phoebe, who was fifteen
Kyle W. is thanked in the February newsletter for
Volunteering to sing
“and what an outstanding job he did!”
In the March newsletter, we see:
3/22/10                6:30 – 8 p.m.                  Library
Task Force to Increase Civil and Ethical Behavior – Steering Committee Meeting

Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady County in upstate New York. He has won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards (2007 and 2008), the Anna Davidson Rosenberg and the Mary C. Mohr Poetry Awards. His poetry has appeared online at New Verse News, Best Poem, The Kennesaw Review, and switched-on gutenberg. In 2009, his poetry was published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. Swartz is a nominee for the 2011 Pushcart Prize. His film Never Leave Nevada opened in Dramatic Competition at the 1990 US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.