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Saturday, July 06, 2019


by Robert Knox

First they came for the immigrant children
And we looked away
Because the Leader's toady told us, "Those are not
our children"
And we looked at our own children,
and were reassured

Then they came for the people who cover their heads
or pray too much
And again we looked away
Because we were not Iranians, or Iraqis, or Gazans,
or children of the West Bank detained indefinitely without charges
And, as the man said,
those are not our children

Then they came for the abused, and those who accused their abusers,
and for the accusers' advocates,
and for those who fought against their abusers,
breaking into their hidden armories to take away their guns
            But we looked away, and jested at the comedie humaine,
because we were not ourselves the victims of abuse
or the advocates for the abused,
and, after all, we are "not his type"

Then they came for the ones who would never
play ball with Der Leader
The ones who would always be trouble
because they were cheated out of their land
or, perchance, had been enslaved
or who had once owned a country that the slave-owners wished
            to possess for themselves
or who, we feared, were willing to work
            for too little money
or who loved the wrong people
or who were unwilling to remain in their positions
            and to perform the tasks
for which they had been created by the distant Creator—
those varied and disobedient creations
of that stable genius
            somewhere in the sky

And then because no one else remained standing
            in our diminished patria,
neither advocates,
nor scribblers with their pencil over the ear,
nor Enemies of the People with their hand-held devices,
nor party of the workers
nor defenders of the beaten, humiliated and disappeared

able to kick the ball from his feet,
nothing was left for us to do
but to lay our own bodies before His feet
            As the painted, spiked, and horny-headed demons of extinction
cheered, and drank, and laughed, and danced upon the bodies
of their victims
and ran up history's score

Boston area writer Robert Knox is a contributing editor for the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual in which his poems are regularly published. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award for poetry books published in 2017. Also a fiction writer, his novel Suosso's Lane, a story of the Sacco-Vanzetti case, was published in 2016. His novel Karpa Talesman recently won a competition for speculative fiction and will be published by Hidden River Arts.