Posts Tagged 'Bombing'

September 15, 1963

Who were they?

Four young girls

dressing in choir robes

within a church.

What was their crime?

They concealed within their cells

the wrong DNA,

too much pigment

in their skin.

What did they want?

They asked for respect,

their American rights,

to keep their dignity

and opportunity.

Their sentence:

Death by dynamite,

by men shrouded in

white robes

and hoods.

Executed this date,

no appeal.

Hal C Clark – April, 2011

We recently visited Birmingham, AL and explored the downtown area where we came upon the church where the bombing took place. I was saddened by the thought of the hatred that caused this tragic event. These four young girls never had a chance to grow up, have children of their own, or enjoy the progress in race relations to come. As William Stafford would say, it was a failure of compassion.

I have been away from this blog for a while, but I hope now to be posting new work each week.

Memorial – OKC

Memorial – OKC

In a fragment of a moment they were gone.

Sitting, standing, smiling, stumbling, tumbling

Twisting, flying, crashing, crushing, sobbing,

Bleeding, exhaling, growing cold…, still.

So still.

Snuffed out by brutal hatred like half-burned candles

Under some cruel, hellish breath,

And nineteen tiny candles

Only briefly touched by flame.

So brief.

In the quietness of evening a broken assemblage

Of departed souls sit mute within

Glowing rows of straight glass chairs

Cascading gently down a grassy slope

So serene

With no laughing conversation, giggle, sigh

On chairs with names carefully inscribed

Sit squads of silenced soldiers

Unwillingly recruited to an obscure battle never won.

So quiet.

In this holy place, consecrated with

The spilled blood of each departed,

Visitors pause, listening, sensing the silent

Presence of kindred strangers, and pleading

For a breath from even one.

So final.

In this sacred place I breathe the air they breathed,

Just before they breathed no more

I sense the pain and ecstasy and hopes

And fears and joys they must have felt before

Being stolen from their families

So unfair.

Some, swallowed by inferno and yet

Somehow untouched, in pain still ask,

“Why them and why not me?”

They weep and pray for those who died

And promise, “I’ll always remember.”

Please remember.

Hal C Clark – Feb 2010


About Memorial – See more at http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org


The morning of Wednesday, April 19, 1995 began as a normal, bright spring morning in Oklahoma City. Then, at 9:02 a.m. a rental truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, loaded with tons of explosives shaped to bring about maximum death and destruction, exploded. One hundred forty-nine adults and nineteen children were killed in the blast, most instantaneously. Rescue efforts occupied the following week while the Nation mourned.

Several years ago, on a sunny afternoon, we visited the memorial. It occupies two city blocks and is centered around the reflecting pool which replaced Fifth Street. An American Elm, now called the survivor tree, somehow weathered the explosion, stripped of all its leaves and with several broken branches.

One lone wall of the original building remains and is inscribed with over 600 names of people who survived. On the footprint of the destroyed building is a gentle slope covered with grass and 168 metal chairs, each with a lighted glass foot. On the glass of each chair is inscribed a name of one of the dead. The nineteen children’s chairs are smaller. But for one, all of these children were in the day care center located on the second floor, immediately above the truck.

Since my visit, I have been haunted by what I saw there, and felt. The memorial involves you and brings you back to 9:02. Even though the rubble has long ago been removed, I had a sense that the echoes of those lives still remain in that place. It is library-quiet; the only sound, the trickle of water in the reflecting pool.

A chain-link fence stands at the west end, left over from the days of rescue and recovery, covered with gifts of remembrance: watches, flags, stuffed toys, necklaces, pictures, many children’s things. These are the recent gifts. The originals are archived in the museum across the street. The gifts keep coming, fifteen years after the tragic event.

I think often about that memorial. I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. The above poem is an attempt to make sense of what happened there. It is so easy to love those around us, love all humankind. Hate must be labored over and fed and intensified by shutting out empathy and caring and compassion. Hatred is an anonymous beast that cannot be tamed. Why does it persist? Only God knows, but He didn’t create it.

Hal C Clark

Feb 11, 2010


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 30 other followers

Post Calendar

March 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Categories

Archives