Sean Lynch: 3 Poems

A Distant Hill

Humans lined up for the kill

quaking before a trench

a preparation for innocents slaughtered

a trench dug by convicts trusted

more than innocents slaughtered.

The Urals are impassable.

Comrade, there's no need

to justify when you have vodka

and your pick of the floor cleaners

to fuck, with genitals only a little warmer

than their hardened knees.

Comrade Stalin himself says a soldier

who has crossed thousands of kilometers

through blood and fire and death

can have fun with a woman.

The Urals are impassable.

Comrade, why have a conscience

when there's the commissar

to give reasons? Confessions

excesses of humans, the Siberian forests

hold unknowable numbers, quotas

of timber and quotas of corpses

fill the hills surrounding the gulag

but there's one hill that's different

where numbers become bodies

and bodies become numbers

and humans collapse into holes

like they never existed.

The Urals are impassable.

The glades of Tambov woods

and the Meschchera nature reserve

are islands of nihilism scattered

across a sea of meaning.

Camps large enough to hold the millions

of reasons we fear monuments

for the forgotten. The state monopolizes

monuments. Auntie Pasha do not resell

the stockings you found in Chelyabinsk.

Don't you dare travel to Zlatoust to hawk

your wares. It doesn't matter

if your boys starve.

The Urals are impassable.

You'll only end up a floor cleaner.

One son dead on the front

another son maimed at home.

The Urals are impassable.

How one man can destroy

the lives of millions

and ruin an ideology.

Like they never existed.

All buried on the distant hill

that only the executioner

with his stone soul can reach.

A distant hill filled with nothing.

Blood Stained Plains

Driven from stone-walled

and thatched-roof hovels by the redcoats

with bayonet, but mostly by hunger

over the Atlantic

halfway across the world

by way of decaying wood

in broken vessels devastated by disease.

Killed before arrival by infections

and overcrowding and even more hunger.

Harassed in colonial cities

of New York, Boston, Philadelphia

by "Nativists" who formed mobs

to assault foreigners. Some fled west again

as settlers mimicking tactics conceived

by oppressors in the homeland

the punctured emerald isle.

Pushing farther west

in this new red land

to escape prejudice

by earlier conquerors

in the cramped suffocation

of east coast cities

to vast prairies

stained with blood.

The colonized transmogrified into colonizer

to nurture the ashen earth.

Bonus Army

Remember MacArthur's charge

against broke WW1 vets

camped out in protest in DC

at the height of the Great Depression?

Remember cavalry and tanks

running down old men

and women and children

on the lawn of the Capitol building?

The original Occupy movement

demanded due money

and was met with force

of the active duty

ordered to drive out

veteran soldiers.

Burn the Tents!

Snatch the rifles!

Fire and tear gas and gunshots.

A scene that will be repeated

in the future.

The Great Depression

will return.

And it will be the end

of the American Empire.

Sean Lynch is a leftist poet and editor who lives in South Philly. His poems have been published in various journals and he is the author of four chapbooks, the latest being On Violence, published in 2019 by Radical Paper Press. You can find out more about him on

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