How Do You Measure Sadness

*I wrote this in 2012 after a violent tragedy.  As it entered the news cycle there were people arguing whether this tragedy was as bad as other ones in history. 

What an inane and pointless thing to argue about!  And then I wrote this poem.

How Do You Measure Sadness?

Does one hold a measuring cup to
Capture the accumulated tears
Of an atrocity’s victims?

Does one hoist the tears of
Gassed Holocaust Jews and
Does one add to it
the rubbered scars of the survivors?
Does one scrape and shake out the
Ink from tattooed serial numbers into
The cup?

Does one appraise the tears of
Raped, murdered and mutilated
Tutsis and Hutus?
Does one weigh
The bones of school children slaughtered?
Does one record the nightmares recounted
In gacaca courts’
Grass fields?

Does one quantify the tears
Vaporized in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Does one tally the
Seared and blackened
deadened flesh?
Does one register
The slow demise of life
from radiation sickness?

Does one place the hearts
buried at Wounded Knee
upon the scales of Dike?
Does one mark the expanse
of the theft of an
entire continent?
Does one count
sorrows’ burden of
desolate and derelict reservations?

How does one measure sadness?
Does one pile up

the tears                     the bodies            the flesh            the nightmares
the ink                        the bones            the corpses            the screams

to compare and judge their loss?

How does one assess the weight of a scream?

How does one compute the last gasp of a dying child?

How can I ever


your loss?


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