Saturday Paper Pietà

Candelària 1993

 In his holy name they huddled
 before his church door 
 for Jesus saves
 Jesus saves
 but not the eight, sucking stone
 with a bullet in their heads
 their soft heads.
 It was cold on the steps, late at night
 where they slept
 and they slept
 wrapped in dreams until waking
 warm in blood
 warm with blood
 from the flesh of their friends
 now never to wake
 not to wake.
 For crimes as thief or whore 
 the little children were culled
 they were culled
 and the golden streets that glisten
 under Christ Redeemer
 Our Redeemer
 were cleansed of their stains 
 for the carnival must go on
 must go on. 

The Candelária massacre was a mass killing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 1993. During the night, eight homeless people, including six minors, were killed by a group of men beside the Candelária Church. Several of the men were members of the police and were tried for the killings, but only two were convicted. —Wikipedia

Saturday Paper

 This Saturday of shining grass
                 yawning cat
 shimmers about my hair
 as I weigh down the paper
 with coffee and a frown.
 A ball of brown-beaned warmth 
 at the cusp of my neck
 is my sigh
                my breath, a sieve 
                to filter melancholy.
 Black ink presses 
 into elbows, thoughts.
 Words, capitalised, or ugly bold
 splutter of young men 
 with flags and flame
 who stare into foreign lens
 hear only explosions
                breathe only dust.
 I deny the world its news
 and flip to the lifestyle section;
                new restaurants, ways to dress 
                and think
 yet my pulse still hums 
 along that headline shot
 of crumpled bodies 
 in logo T-shirts
 loose-limbed as contortionists 
 surrounded by rubble.
 There’s a tree in the photo
 gangly as a teenager
 in the middle of the street. 
 It’s survived the explosion 
 with a rooted grim resistance
 that the dead boys
 thought was theirs.
 Now, a plum-bottomed ant
 scuttles up the wooden
 table leg and flickers
 on the paper’s edge.
 I blow it off, not bothering
 to watch it fall
 as I shake the pages clean
 and return to my shining
 grass-scented Saturday. 


 His head rests on my shoulder now.
 As a child he’d nestle there.
 When shadows grew, my boy
 tired from loves and labours of the day
 would rest as I stroked his hair.
 We’d walk along the riverbank
 gathering the rushes
 where in the still, waiting dusk
 poppies blazed, and the chill
 of changing seasons 
 made me shiver
 as I pictured forming years.
 His head rests on my shoulder
 cold-cheeked and grey.
 At the close of this long dark day
 he lies bloodless, wasted in my arms
 as I stroke his matted hair.
 Stretched on groaning timber
 his arms spanned
 a world of love and fear.
 Forgotten hero to the riot
 of soul-scared people at his feet.
 My son. God’s Son. 

Kate Maxwell is a Sydney-based teacher. She has been published and awarded in Australian and International literary magazines such as The Blue Nib, The Chopping Blog, Hecate, Linq, Verandah, Social Alternatives and Swyntax. Writing has always been her therapeutic and creative outlet. Kate’s interests include film, wine and sleeping.

©2020 Kate Maxwell
All rights reserved


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

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