Sorrowing World and UN General Debate


by Brandon Marlon (March 2018)

Untitled, Nicolas Carone, 1957

Sorrowing World


Zealous to consummate credal demands,

the wolves of evening sod in blood a globe

of suspecting yet effete civilians,

torpid fodder awaiting their fate,

unsure of their means, wavering in their resolve.


Apologists sated with a surfeit of massacres

turn reticent and no longer default to excuses,

refraining from the quondam claim

that our murderers are depraved because deprived,

merely seeking redress for valid grievances.


The whirlwind’s reapers sowed no wind;

innocents slain were unstained to the end

that met them abruptly on a whim,

at the pleasure of hellions who connive

to unnerve, terrify, slaughter.


We have become benumbed and inured to the scourge,

idle bystanders to our own piecemeal demise,

resigned to a grim regimen convulsing the civilized

with wretched regularity, impoverished by loss

while still at a loss as to how to stanch the hemorrhage.


Though we weary of chilling eyewitness accounts,

horror’s array will unrelentingly hold sway

until budding homicides discern

that none are ever sanitized by bloodbaths,

not even those ideologically inspired.

Detail of Mankind’s Struggle for a Lasting Peace, UN, Jose Vela Zanetti, 1953

UN General Debate


Assembled in bespoke garb, grandees

ostensibly exercising a modicum of decorum

take turns at the marble-backdropped rostrum

to flaunt identity and allegiance, saber-rattling

and rodomontading, touting stances

and espousing views for which they aim to gain

purchase and traction if not approbation,

a parade of grandstanders challenging

the patience of their captive audience

of professional seat-fillers.


Here where First and Third worlds rendezvous

heads of state have their say,

lavishing kudos or spewing mordant critiques 

regardless of their capacity for rapacity,

nonchalantly blathering platitudes

despite incriminating enormities and excesses. 


None is stunned when little is proposed

in the way of solutions generable and operant 

to address global plights; ultimately some

succumb to the stifling atmosphere and faint,

a time-honored excuse to be excused.


Once all is said and said, delegates swarm

corridors to wheedle and wangle,

threaten nemeses with démarches

worded “in the strongest possible terms”

(or else thermonuclear war),

and elbow for priority in bathroom queues. 


Ambassadors of nations routinely sidelined

then silenced shoot dirty looks at counterparts

along the urinals, comparing length and girth,

mumbling epithets in no need of translation

before fleeing the zoo in chauffeured sedans

en route to fine dining and a musical.

Thus ends another marathon speech-fest

in a tower tragically and ironically ivory.


Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 225+ publications in 28 countries.

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