This is based on a true story; it took me a few months to write. The victim of this crime has contributed comment during the writing process and I have edited it accordingly.

an account
(in one act)
of a mediocre, forgettable crime.
(for some)

they crucified the man
(for four and a half hours)
with guitar strings
on a bedstead he got in a secondhand store
because he didn’t much care about décor
they gave his pup a bullet;
bathed him in the young dog’s blood
(a flood of dread
hours more ahead)
they brought along a girl for sacrifice
a rite of passage autograph
snapshot of initiation
crack for crack

periphery: brutal rutting, virgin thug?
don’t make eye contact, look at the rug.
they looted at leisure
bashed at his mouth with a gun barrel
just for pleasure
there were four men taking turns
to make cigarette burns
by dawn they grew bored,
threw their pickings in his truck
where are your keys man?
he hung there
breathing blood,
spitting bitter disappointment;

why’d they let him live?

©Cindy Taylor 2009



  1. So interesting that you wrote this after I had read an article in the area paper (Los Angeles Times) reporting that SA has more violent crime than any other country…I was quite surprised by this and your poem with its vivid lines created a painful image for me about this issue. I would think that would be a major concern given the world cup being played there….however…another thought provoking poem.

  2. The sad reality of our beautiful country – the anger is the most tangible – a gift from our forefathers?

  3. No, no, no! These young thugs can’t blame apartheid forever! They have no first-hand experience of it. It is the hopelessness of their situation, I think, that makes them want to take it out on others; and the only answer is to give them hope through education and prospects of a better life. Here we are, 16 years into the ‘New’ South Africa and things are no better for the poor.

  4. In a bizarre manner I understand that greed leads to crime because you need to possess and own.
    But what possible reason could there be for sadism like this? This is barbaric and the people who did this can’t possibly be human – or do I have rose-tinted spectacles on again? 😦

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