A MOMEMT OF SILENCE
From afar firearms scream.
A man topples and blood spurts
out of ruptured limbs.
Leaves are red; it is autumn.
Through the leaves color flows,
figures crossing back and forth.
Through the leaves sunlight glows,
memories brought forth in autumn.
At first pain itself then feeling goes,
passing with a deadness that leaves no more.
The stillness of ethereal air.
Circles turn silvery arcs glide
forward with a smile to bare.
Stop. And then we part.
Copyright © Steve McNichols, 2004, all rights reserverd.
I first started writing "A Moment of Silence" in 1962 when I learned about a friend becoming paralyzed after being shot in a bar by a jealous husband. Those early drafts were very different from later versions as I started painstakingly developing my poetry writing skills. I set it aside for several years until the deaths of brave civil rights workers moved me to resume in the mid-sixties. Those drafts were better but, by no means, finished. Finally, the Viet Nam War inspired me to work some more on the poem a copy of which I gave Julian at ceremonies commemorating the release of Lyndon Johnson's civil rights papers in Austin, Texas, during 1971 or 1972. For the past thirty years I've alternately set the poem aside and worked on it until I finally perfected it as best I can. "A Moment of Silence" addresses "man's inhumanity to man" in its most brutal context.]