Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SURVIVORS, by KAREN SWENSON

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SURVIVORS, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: They came up to her, strangers in the street
Last Line: Mirrors, for bargirls who ask no questions.
Subject(s): Cambodia; Death; Vietnam; Dead, The


They came up to her, strangers in the street,
clutched her, dug fingernails into her arm and
told her blond hair, her foreign blue eyes, how their
grandfather was clubbed to death, their child died
of malnutrition, they couldn't find their mother.
Now, she says, ten years later, they are better.


Walled up in the band's riffs of Western rock,
beneath the turning mirror ball that fragments
us into mosaics of faces, we shout
out questions as he watches Vietnamese
bargirls churn their hips. He yells his wife, his
three daughters tortured, killed. He was in France.
We eat our fish, our chicken, listening to
his family's massacre. His fevered eyes
shine black as lacquerware. We holler our
regrets, our horror. He shrugs and leaves us
for deafness in the rock band's restive din,
for blindness in the glitter of revolving
mirrors, for bargirls who ask no questions.

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