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A Poem After Martin Niemoller’s First They Came for the Communists.

When they went to South Korea to slaughter Communists,

they were ordered to “kill em all” .

They did what they were told

And slaughtered helpless innocents at No Gun Ri.

I was too young to know or care.

My indifference was clearly forgivable

 

By the time they went to Vietnam to kill Communists,

They understood that they had to “kill em all”

And at Mai Lai and Hue the blood of innocents

Soaked the earth like rain

And instead of rain, poison fell from the sky.

By then I had finished my education,

Was fully brainwashed so that the war for me

Was necessary for the destruction of evil communists,

And I was not (yet) a Communist, and so I said nothing.

 

When the Civil Rights Movement began,

I watched them come for the Freedom Riders,

For those who marched, for those who simply sat

At counters or went to school.

John was assassinated, and Martin and Malcom

I learned the Black Panthers had been

Killed in a barrage of gunfire as they slept in Chicago,

By men who had been told to “kill ‘em all”.

 

The students at Kent State were shot dead by

American soldiers on American soil.

And I understood that someone had said “kill em all”

and that that person was not a communist.

 

Then came the demonstrations by women,

Demanding control over their bodies, demanding

Equality in education and employment, demanding

To be treated as human beings, and I was one of them

so I marched and shouted as well.

I became a feminist, and somewhere along the way,

I became a Communist.

 

I am an old woman now,

and my life has been spent watching them

In Nicaragua, in Honduras, in El Salvador,

In Columbia, in Angola and Guinea Bissau,

In Haiti and Honduras, in the Soviet Union, in Cuba,

and still,

In North Korea, trying to “kill us all.”

The warm and comforting shawl

I throw across my shoulders on winter nights,

Is the knowing that they have not “killed us all.”

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.

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