Image by Annie Leibovitz via


She didn’t look back at her sister
there was no point
all that she knew of her and home
was in tatters now, blended with red
dust and sticky black risen
from the spot where they’d played
on the days before the devil came
flanked by a hundred henchmen
who laughed in a chorus of snakes hiss
no regard for the human heart
with all its weaknesses
and capacity to bruise so easily

All that remained now was running
pressing sweat drenched palms
to ears tortured by the sounds
of the insufferable made possible
a reality brought to bear by greed
and other such diseases
hours passed, day became night
and turned back to a high noon scorch
then running through dusk, tracks covered
hounds of hell kept at bay
for one more day (please let me live)
but what’s left to plead for anymore

This poem was written for Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub prompt ‘Exile’


37 responses to “run

  1. oh dang…that is tightly penned with raw emotions, felt unfiltered in the running and fear of that young girl..very well done vanessa

  2. Yes, well done. Such terrible stuff going on. You know there is a girl graduating from Stanford this year or last – I was reading about her – all her family had been killed but she and her sister – then they were running away, got separated, found each other, lined up with others to be shot in front of a mass grave when the gun men just became tired. Let them go. It is hard for us to realize how these things happen and that they are. Good to focus upon as you have. k

    • Thank you, just hope it responds to exile appropriately. I haven’t read the story you were talking of which is sad because it means that more than one story exists like that. (of course I know that, but I wish it wasn’t so). Thanks for the thought provoking prompt.

  3. This rings so true for all the people’s forced into fleeing their own country, either from their own government i.e. (Syria) right now, or, the holocaust of WW2 and any other such ethnic fought wars. Yes, as a whole race of people they can be forced into exile, so, I think this fits the prompt perfectly (sad to say) Very powerful

  4. Reads to me like a haunt from the past. Whether that is close or not I don’t know, but the past in some cases can exile us from any hope of normality or hope of hope. Very excellente write.

  5. def one for the emotions…the leaving of home in the opening, been there…the feeling of nothing left to fight for in the end…felt that too…it could be home, or country….some nasty bit of social commentary and sadly it happens far too often…

  6. it is sad that this is anyone’s realiy…so sad that one would be SO grateful for just living, and to have to fight so hard to fall alive and to keep the hounds of hell at bay! A strong write with emotional intensity.

  7. The sense of fear, of terror really, is very strong in this, and it almost overpowers the extreme economy and effectiveness of the language which is just dark and glowing underneath the emotions–you definitely got into the skin of these girls and made their flight into exile vividly real.

  8. This evoked a very clear image for me–I thought of the novel “Little Bee,” the story of a young African refugee who stowed away to England after her family was decimated. Then I saw “genocide” in the tags and said, “Yes. Vanessa, you really captured it.”

  9. This was really painful for me, especially the picture. I don’t know how people kill children like this, and political violence is esoecially heinous. Your poem brings to life a scene so desolate of compassion and mercy, it’s an exile from humanity that cries out.

  10. I read it, saw it differently than I think you intended… and yet it spoke a commentary on the good and evil within us, even as children. I see now this was not a confrontation of siblings, a fall off the bike bleeding on pavement guilt ridden sibling running away from consequences… I see now it is darker, more insidious than that. I love the emotions captured. I applaud your empathetic ability to write from this place.

    • Thank you, that is very kind. The picture could easily mislead the read here, but at the same time I almost didnt want to use a picture that was to descriptive of the story I was telling. I like that poetry can be so transferable and that I can write one story, and the reader recycles that story and interprets it for themselves in whatever way fits their heart. Once it is on the page, it is yours to enjoy as you wish. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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