“If I cried out/ who would hear me up there/ among the angelic orders?” – Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies
We heard the news, we saw on video how
they sat in rows, arms linked, no chorus
sounding anguish from among their ranks.
Or pain, or anger— not that the formality
of silence cannot mean something seethes
beneath the bludgeoned front. Attack the head,
the ribs; pour acids down the throat and
scald the eyes. What civil liberties we take.
A student writes, They’re human too, they hurt
from all this fear. Long days ahead, of vigil;
flushed nights spiked with sudden chill. All’s over-
cast. Phalanx of blue: faces that look, as they
close in, like neighbors’, brothers’, uncles’—
What you see, before the bodies fall to blows.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Listening to Piazzolla’s Tango Etudes
- Eating Dried Fish With Our Hands
- Dear nostalgia,
- What We Look For
- Without Translation
- Heart Weighted With Cares
- Tableaux Vivants
- Listening to Chopin’s Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15
- Dear solitude,
- Landscape, with Notes of Red
- Blue Stone Blues
- Landscape, with a Glimpse of the Soul as it Leaves the Body
- How I Came to Writing
- When does the hunger abate;
- Dear errant winds at dusk,
- Dear scarlet-flushed, hydraulic,
- Monday’s News
- Landscape, with Traces of Prior Events
- On the Nature of Things
- Spell Against Grey
- Landscape, with Castoffs on the Sidewalk
- Sleepless Ghazal
- Last Call
- Delivery Confirmation
- Landscape, with Early Frost and a Dream Interior
- Campus Elegy
- Ghazal: Chimerae
- Maguindanao Ghazal
- Insurgent Song
- Paper Ghazal
- Ghazal of the Transcendental
- Hot Lyric
- On the sense of danger or foreboding, the prickling
- Postcard from the Labyrinth
- Letter to One Seeking Flight
- Unbelievable Ends
- In the chapel of perpetual adoration,
- Private: Landscape, with Deer Eating its Afterbirth
- Night Rain
- Conversation that Ends with a Dream of Accounting
- Lyric on the Edge of Winter
- Paper Cut #2
- And once again,
- Prayer Among the Stones
- Call and Response
- Dark Prayer
- Song of Snow
- Santa Milagrita
- Song without Strings
- Morning Song
3 Replies to “Campus Elegy”
“What civil liberties we take.”
Now there’s a pithy phrase if I ever read one! Love the dual meaning. Ambiguity rules!
This is just a terrific political poem, Luisa. The phrase Larry identifies is obviously a pivot, but everything that follows it feels crucial, too. I mean, who hasn’t experienced that tension between taking a stand as a fighter (nonviolent or otherwise) and wanting to continue treating one’s opponents like human beings deserving of compassion?
I love this much needed and compassionate poem. The part that resonated with me was the realization by the students that these seemingly familiar neighborly figures were going to hurt them. That is a horrible feeling of betrayal. My first thought was of Bosnia, but so many wars are neighbor against neighbor . We could go straight back to our own civil war.
Strange to be talking about war. Is this what it’s come to again?. Why all the hatred against college students? Is this misplaced class warfare or just the case of a few bullies given too much power? Are we doomed to repeat Kent State again?.
First a link to the pain of pepper spray.