Cora McLelland

              On that Afternoon

On that afternoon, reading again
what they did to Lynne Stewart
on that afternoon, 
                           how I heard what they did
revoking a sentence
   because it was opportune – 
for it mattered 
                to punish severely,
would intimidate others,
would really intimidate:
the soft-hearted – 
the good – 
those who care
                           about life
those like Lynne
who love humanity
and defend human rights

I thought 
“let  Michelle Malkin die 
                          of cancer,” 
“yes, god, if you exist, let her die”
“let her die 
a terrible death,” 
and I thought
“let the judges who sat on the panel
of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals
burn alive in the station inn,
back in Canada 
while they are
on a hunting trip,
looking for other game 
than Lynne”
By chance, I thought, 
the train with all the oil in it 
will derail.
“Let them burn,” I prayed, 
“let them all die 
a terrible death.”

And as for Judge  Koeltl, I thought,
“let that man, 
that bad man 
which lacked the will,
the energy 
and the courage 
                            to stick to
what he thought was right 
let this man who caved in
this Austrian 
or German American
who forgot what it meant
           in the old country
      in that language long forgotten
'to have / a backbone' 
(strange as it sounds) –
BUT god, if you  listen 
to all languages, of all nations
whether they call you bog or allah or dieu – 
let him be struck 
by a car
let him be 
sitting forever 
in a wheelchair
so that he may know 
what it means
to have 'no backbone' 
a man with a character of his own,
not that of his superiors
or of an iceberg called Secretary of State
or a liar called 
Mr President"

But then, 
standing in the garden
looking at the tree tops
seeing the wind move through this green world
seeing patches of blue way up there
I thought, 
“It's all to
no avail
What does punishment mean
what does revenge mean?”
“Nothing,” I thought
“If they're gone
there are still others
hundreds of them
maybe millions
If they don't open their eyes
don't listen, silently, to their heart
if they go on drowning in a flood of media hype
of politically useful clichés
what will be won, what
changed, truly and deeply
There are so many
so many like judge Koeltl – 
the Nazis found fine servants
back in the old country
in Austria Germany the deadly REICH
Pliable opportunists – 
people used to have no opinion – 
serving well (it was said)
the regimes 
that came and that went
They are around still, these people 
In every office
court room
even the President's office
They have 'no backbone'
are just like grass
in the wind”


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