Inside School #1

Garrett Phelan’s poems have appeared in All About, The Hartford Courant, Minimus, Articulate, Arlington Artsletter, English Journal and Potomac Review His work also appeared in the chapbook anthology Poetic Arts (Workhouse Arts Center). He was a contributing author to the book The Right to Literacy in Secondary Schools, ed. by Suzanne Plaut with a forward by Ted Sizer.

The shoes stood out:
one burned black sneaker,
one soiled white slipper
with faux jewelry,
one girl’s toeless sandal
and a woman’s pump.

They were blown out of their shoes,
their bodies torn apart.
“We don’t need sweet medicine,
we need bitter.”

A wall remained mottled
by ten thousand bullet holes
On the wall was a portrait
of Vladimir Mayakovsky
Your son is gloriously sick!
His heart is on fire.”

All of Beslan is crying now.

After the conflagration were ashes,
blown out windows, ventilation
pipes fallen down, fire charred rafters
and a hole blasted in the brick wall.

Two chairs, one with flowers and cookies,
two chocolate love birds and candy animals to eat
in memory of the 350 dead children,
teachers and parents.

The other chair with two sets of burned keys,
a five ruble coin, three icons
and a new school notebook scribbled
in Cyrillic by 9th grader Vadim Dzobat.
At the foot of the chair
a tiny white shoe once
worn by a three-year old.

SOURCE: “A Gruesome Tour Inside School #1” in The Washington Post, September 6, 2004

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