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Wednesday, March 09, 2022


by Joan Mazza

From one remaining gallon of water,
precious drops pooled in the palm.
The fighting continues after two long weeks,
the air filled with dust and the stench
of rotting bodies.

Water and electricity have been turned off,
no food and no way to cook any food remaining
in half a house that has been shelled. Next door,
a home on fire, two dogs howling, left behind.
How to escape?

Three children, but only two hands to hold
onto them. Who will carry what they’ll need
wherever they might land? Which way is safe
passage, a welcome waiting from strangers?
How to escape?

Tanks line up for miles, out of gas, ammunition
spent. Phone dead. Each vehicle with a driver,
no more than a trapped boy, his stomach growling,
howling. No water. He cries for his mother, his bed.
How to escape?

Who asked for this war? One man with a few drops
of power he wants to hold. No matter who
suffers, dies. Didn’t other leaders kill millions?
Stalin. Hitler. Pol Pot. He can, too. Confident.
No need to escape.

Joan Mazza has worked as a microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops  on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self, and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia.