For the Disappeared by John Eppel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Competent But Unfitted

For the Disappeared

Cover photo by Studio Incendo


For those who burn or float face down, what tears;

what family protests smashed by rifle butts;

what withered whispers in what wasted ears,

of spilling, like beans, the  brains and the guts?

For those in anthills or in mine shafts stuffed

like unironed washing, load on jumbled load

(one still in rusty leg-irons, one handcuffed),

what bells, what bugles, what intended ode?


But vigils, tongueless, levitate the night

while Law-and-Order’s boots respond to spit,

and somewhere in a rural hut, a light

is casting restless shadow-shapes that flit

and flicker, not fading before the dawn,

but waiting, like winking coals, to be born.



John Eppel is an Zimbawean poet, he is the recipient of Ingrid Jonker Prize and NMet Prize, among other literary honors.

Submitted: January 12, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Competent But Unfitted. All rights reserved.

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