we lit candles after
their names and tales on our ears,
flames flickering, like souls.
Antonia Sara Zenkevitch
*trigger warning: the next poem looks at vital questions I feel we should ask following the terror attack in New Zealand. I don’t know about you but I had a full-on weep when I heard some of the names and the stories of those who died. In a sister poem, Love & Hate, I talk about an equally important need to build resilience through friendship.
The answer is not to close the Mosques
Of grieving communities of Muslims,
The answer’s not to stop at being shocked
The answer, in part, is to pose questions
Like, why weren’t the killers being watched?
How were they being enabled?
How do we tackle racism?
Are they being charged with ‘terrorism’?
So far I’ve heard the charge of murder –
As it is. It’s also an attack on freedom.
Why was the killer not known
By security in New Zealand
Or his Australian Home
When he had published plans
Of the crimes he has now done?
It was there online.
How was he able to livestream
Atrocities like computer games,
And yet still not be intervened
In a three-mile drive to do the same?
Two massacres and miles between
Channeled live on Facebook,
Reaching world computer screens
And yet not stopped –
Believe me, we need to ask these questions now
Even, especially while we concentrate on love,
I know police later secured the scene
But, is it true the killer was stopped
Not by them but by a brave civilian?
One person’s actions saved a lot
But where could the law-keepers have been?
Why are Muslims now advised not to worship?
A central question that I pose;
Why aren’t their mosques and gathering places guarded?
Why instead, are they asked to close?
I cannot look at each person’s story or I’ll break
But I ask these questions for the living
And for those murdered in such callous ways,
For the women, the men, the children –
I ask for their justice and the future’s sake;
When will we stop thinking it’s someone else’s problem;
That notion it happens in another nation-state; not mine?
When will the stolen be remembered, culprits forgotten
As the causes of hate incarnate are defined,
Comprehended, underlined and crossed out –
With decisive actions and will: Never again?
When will we stop the enablement of fear, doubt
And determined loathing arming gunmen?
Why do we not take the malice of white supremacism seriously?
Don’t you think it’s well past time?
When will we stop acting as if terrorists act all but individually?
When will we ask the questions to help prevent such crime?
These are rhetorical questions
For each mind to debate;
Surely each of us can learn lessons
For those killed it is to late
To save, yet imminent decisions
Can save others from such fate
Man-made in extremism’s crusade,
Thought now can halt tomorrow’s speeding bullets,
Our questions must be sharper than knife blades,
Our answers with a weight to blunt them,
While underpinning the ‘who did it?’ –
The will and gen to overcome them.
Antonia Sara Zenkevitch