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Friday, April 08, 2022


by Penelope Scambly Schott

More than 100 people have drowned in the Central Mediterranean in one week while at least 130 others have been forcibly returned to Libya. In the same week, MSF teams rescued 113 people from a rubber boat that was taking on water. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) condemns Italy and Malta’s failure to assist boats in distress and urges Frontex and other European vessels in the area to reveal the circumstances of these tragic events.  —Médecins Sans Frontières, April 6, 2022

No, the world is always full of war.
The thing is, this time it’s white people
killing white people, so we pay attention.
When it’s those people with darker skin
and we’re not sure exactly where they live,
we pay less attention. Can you point
to Ethiopia on a map? But really,
what good does our attention do? I mail
my pittance to Doctors Without Borders
on my way to shop at Safeway. Am I being
cruel? Yesterday I listened to my friend
lament for an hour on the phone.
I brought homemade bread to the neighbor
who calls it date night at the cemetery
when he brings a chair to his wife’s grave.
And look at me here with my fresh coffee
in a mug with dancing dogs. Don’t I think
I'm just so goddamn kind?

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her newest book is On Dufur Hill, poems about the cycle of the year in a small wheat-growing town.