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Saturday, August 30, 2014


by James Bettendorf

“Suffer the Children” by Janice Nabors Raiteri (2007)

I cannot see the sun rise
            red white yellow horizon
                        I see blood of children
                        form rivers in the streets.

I cannot hear the muted moans of lovers
            passion arms legs tangle
                        I hear keening of mothers
                        Sons, daughters ripped from their arms.

I cannot taste the melon or berry
            sweetness tongue juice chin
                        only the dry residue of lead
                        cannon smoke clouding my face.

I cannot smell the aroma of lilacs
            roses garden blues lilies
                        only the acrid cordite of gunpowder
                        copper odor of innocent blood.

I cannot feel warm breath on my cheek
children grandchildren friends lover
                        only the sharp pain of shrapnel
                        tearing holes, shattering bones.

James Bettendorf taught math for 34 years at various levels and in his retirement begin writing classes at the Loft in Minneapolis, MN. He was accepted for a two-year poetry internship in the Loft Master Track program in 2006 and has been working on a manuscript with his mentor/advisor, Thomas R. Smith.  He has had poems published in Rockhurst Review, Light Quarterly, Ottertail Review, Talking Stick Vols. 18 - 23 and Free Verse.