journalism in verse


Child Ballad

in Obituaries by

A man beats up a woman over money,
drives her and her little boy into the woods,
and shoves the woman off a cliff. It happens
in a place where people used to pass down old,
old stories dressed in simple rhyme and gorgeous
airs. The music was

to make the stories stick. For example,
one does not forget a tragedy that lilts.
But I can’t make a story this young rhyme.
The woman lives. No one cares about the man,
except he hangs or rots. It takes three days
to find the body of the boy, beaten tuneless
in a forest full of birdsong. Oh—

the thousand ways he might have spun
a melody, and passed it on. That art
is nearly lost.


5-Year-Old Boy Was Bludgeoned to Death After Mom Was Thrown Off Cliff [Fox News]

Sean Kelbley is a 2017 Best of the Net nominee with recent poems at the Rise Up Review and Tuck Magazine. He lives with his husband on a farm in southeastern Ohio, and works as an elementary school counselor.

Photo by Simon Matzinger.

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