3 Poems by Janette Schafer

A Venezuelan-American’s Guilt

            after “Survivor’s Guilt” by Nick Stanovick


A tugboat—

overcrowded, ravaged by waves

moans in travail, the timber

bent until its burden

of refugees is scattered—


Seabirds circle, await a feast,

bloated bodies of the misspent drowned,

their old suitcases, backpacks, and clothes

strewn like buoys.


© Janette Schafer




Venezuela is a ruined womb.

4 million have discharged through her lining

in clots and tissue of aborted potential.

Those who love her fear she will bleed out

from the hand grenade lodged in her belly.


© Janette Schafer



A shooting in Caracas

Not even beauty queens are safe

from bullets.  What were those

last, wild thoughts of survival

and pleading as lead entered

the soft, pliable tissue of flesh,

scattered the features of her face

onto the cracked pavement

as their child slept in the back

of the family car?


Was she instead relieved, resigned—

diving from existence to oblivion

with eyes opened, arms extended.


When he turned his weapon inward,

was this too a respite, a way to say

I will not suffer.

I will no longer cause my wife to suffer.

My daughter will not suffer.

Their baby sleeps,

and their baby sleeps,

even as their blood pools

on the surface of the pavement


their baby sleeps.


© Janette Schafer

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