ReContrasted Paige's: The Third Party's Sorrow

[for SweetCider; to be read on the c.b., or in outer space]


The mutilations were not immediately fatal.
But, shaking his head, the coroner said, sadly,
that s}he had suffered more pain in that single evening
than most people, even the profoundly ill,
suffer in their combined lifetimes.
The methods the assailants used
wil not be listered here, lest some other
self-righteous, binary pervert should be moved
to make his own contribution to what your neighbor---
attempting to comprehend the atrocity---
called, with subtle approval and a quick wink,
the straightening out of America;
this land in which some are more free than others,
and, as the slogan says, "Only the truly free are free
"to take matters into their own hands"---like that Boston tea.
At least the coroner inisted on the usage of
unbinary pronouns in his written statement to the press.
Those craven, cringing, homocidal perverts
tore hir clothing away before they burned hir;
and after that, they tossed hir barely breathing body
into the polluted waters of Coronoal Creek,
in the most rural part of this county, where none
could have glimpsed the tortures they gleefully inflicted
(so their militant account seemed to the interview detectives),
too much silence there that blanketed hir anguished screams.
A few shreds of fabric had been recoered:
a piece of mesh tee, a strip of denim (hir short shorts),
and a couple of samples from hir stripey, thigh-length socks;
no shoes were recovered, because as usual,
s}he had been out to party and never went there shod.
Of course, the funeral director insisted on a closed casket---
saving a little expense and what was left of your sanity.
"God, Himself, would have to reconstruct hir,"
he said ruefully; you knew that was already true.
Some times, the Cosmos gives you an acknowledgement
of hir presence: when the sky becomes that rare cerulean
of hir long tresses, or when a car's expensive paint-job
presents the metallic blue of hir eye-shadow;
or breaking dawn offers the hot pink of hir lip-gloss.
And sometimes an involuntary, ironic giggle is caused
by this: in your state, that has abolished death penalties,
hir murderers (all serving multiple life sentences
without the slightest chance of any parole)
wear prison uniforms the exact shade of orange
of hir thigh-length socks, the pair s}he wore that last night.



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roseblossoms's picture

I like the beauty description

I like the beauty description of her in memory 

aligned with nature! And finally of the prisoners

outfit matched to her socks! You give her life 

after death! 


The scene is brutal, my only thought would

be is a burnt body would leave behind burnt dead

skin while moved! 


Just seen too many autopsy shows! 


Anyhow a great story nevertheless  


Starward's picture

Thank you for the very astute

Thank you for the very astute comment, and yes, the use of the socks' color was a deliberate strategy to achieve that effect---which I tried to imitate after reading similar effects in some very good fictive ghost stories.  As for the forensic evidence, the poem is basically addressing the nourner on his own terms, and therefore is trying to avoid the more horrific details.  His beloved's death was horrific enough just on its surface, and I could not bring myself to describe, or even imagine, it further.  Just call me squeamish.  For more than forty years, I have studied (on and off) the serials murders in Whitechapel, in the autumn of 1888, but I have never been able to write much about the mutilations inflicted on the five victims.  Oh well.  But thanks again for the comment, I deeply appreciate your kindness.


patriciajj's picture

This had to be

This had to be written. 


Poetry is not all sunshine and flowers. It is an important platform to wake up an apathetic society to the brutal facts, to be a voice for the oppressed and marginalized, to bring the searing, stark truth into our consciousness, to make us bleed with empathy, because that is the way most important progress is made. It starts from the bottom up, often beginning with artists, poets and musicians who are brave enough to stand up to tyranny. 


We are experiencing a new wave of prejudice and oppression at this time, so this horror is happening as much today as it did 40 or even 60 years ago, because the holier-than-thou imposters have never really left us—they've been with us since Jesus Himself faced the judgment of the Pharisees.


Your account is heart-stopping, unsparing and devastating . . . as it should be. I can't stress enough how important the exposure of this unspeakable crime is. 


The lament toward the end was almost too painful to read, and again, that is as it should be. It must be. This is no subject to handle delicately: you must scream out the piercing truth; we cry, and then we all hope that somehow, someday, change will break through the stone wall of injustice. 


I applaud this brave and urgent call to look beyond our own soft lives and truly care. It deserves an award. God bless you. 




Starward's picture

Thank you for this comment,

Thank you for this comment, and for the tremendous understanding.  I thought the poem might be too over the edge, but you have shown me that it is as and where it should be.  I am thankful for the privilege of having been led to write it----and I do mean "led" because this is not my usual approach, and yet the poem was too insistent to abandon or set aside.  For the second time in less than a week, I cannot say that I set out to compose this poem nor do I believe that I composed it; the experience feels more like I just transcribed it, at the dictation of inspiration.  Because of that, I had doubts; because of those doubts, I turned to the one poet I know who commands a cosmic authority about poetry---yourself.  Yout acceptance of the poem keeps it posted, and allows me to sleep soundly tonight.  Thank you for helping me, thank you for being the kind of poet you are, and thank you for the literary quality that distinguishes you and all of your work. 


patriciajj's picture

Thank you kindly for your

Thank you kindly for your supportive reply, and I also agree with the previous comment when she praised your handling of hir memory and important details involving colors. A very intelligent orchestration, and don't worry about the haters: you stand on the right side of history and truth. 

Starward's picture

Thank you so much. 

Thank you so much.  Approbation from you is better than a cup of jasmine tea (his favorite) with Pop Stevens.  Your comments give me such a zest to continue posting my poems.