One of my goals this year is to write a poem about each book that I read. Earlier this month, I read Red Horizons, a book about the dictatorship/foreign policy of Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu. A character that captured my imagination in the book was the villainous portrayal of Nicolae’s son, Nicu. His story raises questions about justice, especially in light of all of the sexual harassment and assault that has garnered media attention this year. What is justice? How do we make the horrors of history right?
Nicu crashed the car he was given for raping a 15 year old.
He pissed on the only oysters in the country, when the people ate nettles and scraps.
The only justice he saw was an early death by cirrhosis.
But, what is justice anyway?
A bullet to the head on Christmas day?
Or is it a century and a half spent locked away?
Is justice the sanitized violence of the state?
Or is it a mob with machetes?
Is it a mantra to make the boogeyman go away?
or a myth to comfort the victims of a meaningless world?
When words won’t make it better, bars and bullets do the trick.
Maybe the long shadow will pass.
The better world we’ve built will erase the darkest parts.
If we aren’t too traumatized to continue,
we might believe in that myth too.