Minus 16 and Counting

Bradley R. Strahan

“Evil visited us yesterday and we don’t know why.”

— Ron Taylor, the headmaster of a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, where, in 1996, a madman murdered sixteen children

Because evil is in the mad cell,
Not merely the madman outside the cell,

Because the devil is not
Only in the details but inherent,

We inherit an earth
That shifts constantly beneath us.

Because the golden age is always behind us Like the puppy that followed us home from school,
The childhood we survived is framed In gilt, next to the bronzed baby shoes.

So those sixteen stilled faces,
Having no more past, will not earn

More guilt as the years fall
Over them like tenement shadows.

So the flowers piled like the windrows
Of Jewish dead will evoke only innocence.

The sly suits of importance
Salute them briefly and pass on

To the work of the world,
And that day’s Times is filed and forgotten.

Bradley R. Strahan

Bradley R. Strahan is a former Fulbright Professor of Poetry and American Culture (2002-2004). For twelve years, he taught poetry at Georgetown University. He is the director of Visions International Arts and the publisher of Visions-International. Since 1976, he has developed a worldwide following of his work, which includes several books of poetry.


“Evil visited us yesterday and we don’t know why.” — Ron Taylor, the headmaster of a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, where, in 1996, a madman murdered sixteen children Because evil is in the mad cell, Not merely the madman outside the cell, Because the devil is not Only in the details but inherent, We inherit an …

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