Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Nineteen

and by the end

no one dared to say his name

 

 

so we called him

         nineteen

 

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". Subscribe here.

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