To a Terrorist

Editor’s Note: I am in a somber mood today. A good friend fell last week and broke her hip. My horse became very lame. The body is fragile. The weather remains lovely, but without rain.

That September 11th was like today: bright and still and warm and promising. But promises, like hearts, can easily be broken. Ask the Cherokee, the Cheyenne, the Seminole, the Apache. Remember your own broken heart. Remember how the hearts of nations, of cities, of community colleges, can be broken.

Send a prayer for the mending of all broken things.


For the historical ache, the ache passed down
which finds its circumstance and becomes
the present ache, I offer this poem

without hope, knowing there’s nothing,
not even revenge, which alleviates
a life like yours. I offer it as one

might offer his father’s ashes
to the wind, a gesture
when there’s nothing else to do.

Still, I must say to you:
I hate your good reasons.
I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall

in love with death, your own included.
Perhaps you’re hating me now,
I who own my own house

and live in a country so muscular,
so smug, it thinks its terror is meant
only to mean well, and to protect.

Christ turned his singular cheek,
one man’s holiness another’s absurdity.
Like you, the rest of us obey the sting,

the surge. I’m just speaking out loud
to cancel my silence. Consider it an old impulse,
doomed to become mere words.

The first poet probably spoke to thunder
and, for a while, believed
thunder had an ear and a choice.

Stephen Dunn



1. If your heart has been broken, write a poem to The Breaker of Hearts.
2. If you or someone you love has been injured or ill, write a poem to The Bringer of Accident or Illness.
3. If you are praying for rain, write a poem to One Who Sends Rain.
4. You get the idea — write a poem —-


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Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

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