Brutal truth from Brutus

This poem by political activist Dennis Brutus is dedicated to fellow writer Karen Silkwood, who died on the road from Cimarron in Eastern Cape on November 13 1974.

This poem by political activist Dennis Brutus is dedicated to fellow writer Karen Silkwood, who died on the road from Cimarron in Eastern Cape on November 13 1974.

On the road from Cimarron

terrible knowledge quartered

like an unnatural monster

at the back of her brain

On the road from Cimarron

terrible knowledge pursues her

headlights lasering

the back of her head

On the road from Cimarron

terrible knowledge of a mutilating death

rested with lethal casualness

on her sleeve

On the road from Cimarron

terrible knowledge impacted

on her brain

with the shattering crash

that shattered her car from the road:

they wished her to die

with the terrible knowledge

locked in her skull

terrible knowledge

of a nuclear holocaust

Terrible knowledge

of a nuclear holocaust

clumsily unloosed

through carelessness

or greed

terrible knowledge

that even now

a few are dying

slowly, horribly

lied to

lied about

and she had a terrible knowledge

Behind her

out of the dark

hurtled a red glare:

baleful Moloch,

awesome fireball

glimmering:

terror

lunging to destroy

Out of the dark

behind her

a monstrous hound

lunging from Erebus

sharp fangs snapping

to extirpate her:

terrible knowledge

of impounding death

Terrible knowledge

of the guilty ones

- cops, executives, agents -

who conspired to destroy her

and her terrible knowledge

and now conspire

to plead their innocence

their ignorance

Terrible knowledge

of our capacity to destroy

of our potential for destruction,

of our destructive greed:

terrible knowledge

Karen's knowledge,

our knowledge,

terrible knowledge

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