Maxine Beneba Clarke

and by the end

no one dared to say his name



so we called him



because of how they said

it all began


that nineteen votes

let a man

into the halls of parliament

who invoked the crimes of nuremberg


whose words caught

round the necks of folk of colour

     and contracted, like rope


     they told us

nineteen votes let a man to lead

who tabled white supremacy


and on whose hate

the angry dark-webbed corners

                                       then would feed


they said nineteen


     senatored a man

whose tongue controlled the minds

that ruled the hands that loaded ar-15s

     and who kneeled amongst the slaughter


laying blame on the beloved-innocent

         like wreath



so in the end

     when we could not say his name


we said nineteen

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 30, 2019 as "Nineteen".

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Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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