Monday, April 29, 2013

Poem: Heaven Through Hell by Manuel Odeny

Photojournalist Kevin Carter's photo of this girl in Ethiopia inspired this poem.
Pardon my retched soul,
in book of life
Atone my sins with the lambs blood
May the promise of golden streets
Hasten my wary legs home.

To Immanuel’s ground I come
at heavens door I knock
for I’m through hell!
Land of honey and flowing milk
Painted illusions of heaven in good book
Coded pulpit din on fairy-tale winged creatures
A mental prisoner of gospel
Accented talks of glory
“supplicate your dark souls to a Jewish man”
eyes closed,
land swept from our knees
bible, deadly whips on other hand
brotherly love felt in slave ship dungeon

Miles south of sub Sahara Africa
a conception of mistaken passion for love
a drop from a leaking condom.
A fraction of pleasure
summarized in years of hell
pandemic poverty
bullets whiz past my emaciated body
famine hot like a bee sting
carcasses dotting Savannah
as hunger gnaws my intestines


Janjawid spreading Kalashnikov terror
Klansmen lynch mob
Serbia mass graves
pain of child born in Gaza
shelling debris in Mogadishu heat
missing corpse tossing in tsunami
a whiff of Nazi gas

All powerful heaven God
don’t squint in my suffering
while you hold me wear gloves,
least I soil your hands with raw sewerage
hasten my destiny
my will to suffer ebbs
pardon me
be justified through hell I wonder
with a pain to lose the all world,
heaven I truly desire

Manuel Odeny © 2013


  1. Nyc, i like the third para the most. How you capture the sub Saharan plight...good poem, sad poem. The guy committed suicide after being awarded for that photo but am sure you know.

    1. Thanks Kent.

      The young girl was struggling to reach a feeding center where the journalist on a car had just left. They stopped took the snap and left the girl on the spot without help.

      No one knew what happened to her, did she die or survive. What happened to her mother? What was her name and how old was she?