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Degrees of Incarceration

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Degrees of Incarceration


I don’t know what to say today

To students, peers, siblings, or anyone

I keep thinking about

The Pennsylvania woman on spring break

In Florida, who was raped and left

For dead

And who died

Whose credit cards were stolen,

The proceeds to sponsoring more partying

By her rapists, now incarcerated


I keep thinking about the images

I’ve seen of spring-break partyers in Florida

At night and looking young and fit,

Drinking from cups on lawns and in driveways,

No doubt parking lots as well

And in many, many rooms

And there is not a mask in sight

And there is no safe distance in between

For any reason


I keep thinking about the places where

People are fighting, virus (also) notwithstanding

Syria and Yemen


Hong Kong where leaders and speakers

Are arrested

And all the acts of violence in my land

The land about which Woody Guthrie wrote

And sang

Irving Berlin and Kate Smith, too (respectively)


There is too much to think about

But no sedative or anesthetic for me,


I have to deal with side effects from

What I take each day


I ramble but around a theme

And I’m revising, too:

What do we think about what threatens to

Close us off from normalcies

And niceties?

It’s all right, you know

(I know)

There is no Sunday best required

For thinking spiritual thoughts

Or wondering how the Spirit as we know

That Spirit might be enlisted

Might be involved, anyway


If not our neighbors or our friends

Though maybe our neighbors and our friends

And family people

Encouraging our say

As we encourage saying

For all the times I want

To shut up, and that is right

For all the times there is something pressing

And I

And we

Should release it


And, yes, I wonder if poems

Should have messages and morals, but then I think

I’d have to say that poems aren’t for less


Maybe poems are

Things we have to say

That can’t be said better in

Any other way


C L Couch




Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash



The Fall of the House of Jesse

The Fall of the House of Jesse

(Tamar, Amnon, David)





I said not to reject me after

Because with men that is what happens

Guilt of what was done

Scorn for the receiver of the sinner’s sin


In a royal house,

This can happen

Maybe more so

The sense of privilege that each one bears

The privilege to call a sibling in for help with


A pretense for rape





I must have her

Own her, keep her

As a prize

I love her body

The way she looks in courtyards

And the rooms of the palace

We are family

We are royals

There is no shame

We make the laws to follow

God made it so through Saul

And now our father David

I feigned illness, though it was close enough

To truth

I was sick with love for her

I made her come to me, send all others


When she came near to treat me, I gripped

Her clothing, and she knew

She must approve

I am the king’s son

I matter more

And now that I’ve been inside her,

I feel no madness and no illness

What had I been thinking?

What we did was awful

She is awful

I pushed her off, her clothing followed

She was a covered heap on the polished floor

The servants will clean that

I’m done





I am the king

I could do nothing

My own sin forbade me

How can I chastise my own

About a crime of passion

When I have committed mine?

Crimes of

Adultery and murder

Are my legacies

Not the conquests or the

Ark or my children

The child to rule born out of


What shall be visited upon him?


And so in nearly every way

I stood and sat silent

Would not, could not rule in her favor

As virtue and the law would say

(does say)

I should have

Now there will be more violence

I have engendered it

Absalom must have his way

There will be rebellion

The nation will be split

There will be war

The judgment on my sin

Brought down upon this generation

How many more children of children?


Where is justice?

Not with me, upon my throne

Or in my house

I have wounded my realm

Hurt all my people

I will rule

I am called

I am God’s favorite

But all attributes and actions

Are hollow



C L Couch


2 Samuel 13



Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

Electromagnetic Crown


To Stanford and the Rest

To Stanford and the Rest


Rape ruins lives

It is not the end

But it is an end


You are too many

You can’t provide

For all of you

Make smaller then

Your schools and

Your communities


We think coming together

And layering

Big crowds in accretion

Speak to progress and

The good in us


But large looms and then

Shadows grow larger

In which we hide the

Worse longings of the



Planning destruction

To call it strategy

And high living


Grow up, grow down

Grow out, grow in

Or grow apart


Take care of each

Or give it up

Brave lives endure

In spite of you

That is the message now

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