Where are the Screams?

Based on the Painting The Scream by Edvard Munch 1898

The Scream by Edvard Munch 1898

The blood red sunset triggered panic
in Edvard Munch. Had he foreseen
the slaughters of the next century?
His dread spurred him to paint, “The Scream”.

History teaches, but can we be taught?
Wasn’t the first World War, trenches full
of dead bodies, followed by the second,
with its schemed genocide, lesson enough?

We produce arms overnight, they are sold
the next morning. Nations invade nations,
knowing that the UN will talk but not
resist. We ignore civilian casualties,

euphemized as collateral damage.
The piles of mangled children, mothers,
and fathers under the rubble of bombed
out buildings cannot lobby their cause.

No one screams for them, violence ingrained
within our communal mindset. Massacres are
not blamed on the glut of weapons, but clinics
that failed to drive out the shooter’s demons.

Our leaders ask us over and over
for prayers. Judges cite precedent, Congress
shrugs, their lips glued by political risk.
We hold our kids hands, eyes on the exits.

It’s clear one scream is not enough, the screams
of two people are not enough, the outcry of one
city, one region, one nation is not enough
If we all stopped to study Munch’s painting,

if all the world emulated that scream,
would we, could we, force the killing to cease?

Robert Paul Allen lives on a lake near the coast of Maine. He is surrounded daily by the state’s rugged beauty. He worked in the medical field in patient care and has seen the gamut of human trials and tribulations. The human condition inspires much of his poetry. He has been a serious poet for the past five years and has published 31 poems. His first chapbook, Between the Panes has just been published. He believes he still has something to say. Read other articles by Robert Paul.