Vocabularies of outrage

Children are dying in Gaza
Faster than we can find words
To describe the horror.
Whole families in Gaza
Are being annihilated at such a rapid rate
That our vocabularies of outrage
Cannot keep up.
How many times can we say slaughter
Without losing the ability
To feel its impact?
How often can we pronounce genocide
And not grow numb
To what it is saying to us?
Do we need new words, urgent words, ferocious words
To convey the profound evil
That is occurring in Gaza?
Do we need dangerous words,
Deadly words, murderous words?
Words that fire bullets?
Words that explode?
Words that bury children beneath rubble?
Words that sever limbs,
That rip out intestines,
That decapitate?
Language cannot keep up
With the relentless cruelty,
The ceaseless barbarity,
That powerful nations
Are enacting upon the bodies of the innocent.
Words become ghosts
In the houses of the dead.


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at thirdactpoems.podbean.com and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.