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Book of Names

By Seth Michelson

Where do we keep them, George
Tiller, Barnett Slepian, David
Gunn, these beloveds
who died like mourning doves
snared in barbed-wire fences, wings
beating against Church carpets
and the white tile of clinic floors,
where John Britton and James Barrett
bled out, each alone,
so much hot red pain
in the living mind, and how are we
to endure it, how to haul
the memories of Lee Ann Nichols, Robert
Sanderson, Shannon Lowney,
no wonder our wearied backs ache, our cries
for justice mute: what restitution
for murder, what answer
undoes gendered hate, and what
to say to the victims' children
other than your parents died
to help women choose to live?

Added: Wednesday, July 23, 2014  /  Michelson's poem tied for Third Place in Lighting the Way: The 3rd Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest in 2014 sponsored by the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock.

Seth Michelson lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches poetry in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southern California. His most recent collection of poetry, Eyes Like Broken Windows (Press 53, 2012), won the poetry category of the 2013 International Book Awards, and his most recent book of poetry in translation is The Ghetto (Point of Contact, 2011), an English-language rendering of El Ghetto (2003), by the internationally acclaimed Argentine poet Tamara Kamenszain. He welcomes contact through his website,

Other poems by this author