The hand that pulled the trigger

Issue OneIssuesPoetry

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By Duncan Richardson


The officer in charge of the firing squad

knows he was the one

who killed the Ceausescu’s

because his comrades fumbled their triggers

and his bullets raked the bodies

of the dictator and his wife.


The officer stands in the street

where it happened

kicking at loose stones

remembering how the smoke cleared

and they propped up the bodies for the cameras

which had filmed the trial

earlier that day

the tying up of the condemned

and the pleading as the end drew near.

Elena called out

“Why are you doing this?

I was like a mother to you.”

A soldier replied,

“You tortured your people

with empty lives and shelves.

No one can help you now.”

He tried to drag her away.

Elena screamed, “Let us die together,”

and the officer was moved to agree

before pushing the pair

into the footpath clumped with snow.


It’s warmer now for the film crew

as the officer tugs on the sleeve of his jumper.

“I’d do it again,” he says looking down.

“The old bastards deserved




Image by Jens Lelie