“. . . I cannot sing

Amid this horror.”

                     – Anna Akhmatova

                     (early draft of “Poem without a Hero”)

Months pass without a single word recorded,

Eliminating each suspicious link:

The terrorizing, barbarizing, sordid,

The ones who poison tea, with those who drink.

“O, most false love, where be the sacred vials

Thou should’st fill . . . ?”

A subject lethally dosed,

I lurch at each new week’s compounding trials

Exploding round, like Hamlet’s father’s ghost.

Official, noncommittal X-ray vans

Roll swiftly past with purpose, formal seal

A tip suggesting something heavy scans

For cruel contraband, through stone and steel –

Their fluid cool and zero room for error

Lending an added facet to the terror.

— This poem appears in the November 7 print issue of National Review.


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