Candles & Questions


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

tealight candle on human palms
Photo by Dhivakaran S on


  1. V.J. Knutson says:

    So many questions. You address it well.

    1. antoniazen says:

      Thank you! 💚

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