Jacob Wetterling 

they say you should not 

look directly 

at the sun

ignoring the real possibility 

that it is the night 

that has already

blinded us

To the scared, cold, 

Ordinary child

In each photograph

Owned by 

This oddball monster

While the dying sun,

Claw-handed scribe, failing light,

Scribbles justicejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejusticejustice…justicejusticejustice

Into one kind of eternity

Or another


these stories we tell

of bartering children for the status quo

are older than the Minotaur 

dark, iconic monster

who most resembles our complacency

As long as the child sent into the labyrinth is not my own

we mutter, a sotto voce offering

To the god of what it would cost to save them all

He, unlike the Minotaur, is a natty dresser

With advanced degrees and a split-level colonial

He tsk-tsks about the rising price of safety

Rams our collective shame into his artisanally-crafted

Italian briefcase

pets his children and standard


with the same idle indifference 

Ignoring the growing sport 

Of hunting children

In the labyrinthine

minds of men who have traded 

The suffering of this human child

For their own eternal 


Monsters of righteousness

Imagine them as you will but never

Assume your scepticism will make them 

Mythological again

In the smoke of our discarded daughters 

/commerce of indifference 

Shoots craps in crowded rooms

Sweat-palmed cash for common shame

Summon  these 

Monsters of righteousness

From this fire we

have made of love.


I am familiar with stolen

Children stolen names

Borrowed children stolen names

Borrowed stolen beautiful

Girl metonymy

Is when you

Become a face in a crowd

The crowd then becoming

You in every face

I have looked 

You in every 




Can’t do that or you will lose

Her you never truly


Only a name

Crumpled broken paper fluttering down from the blown-apart skyscrapers which once defined our empire 

Mushroom clouded elephantine weight falls to its knees

Compressed neutron star mother

Heart the size of a sugar cube 

Weight of 300 million


On my chest

As I walk through the dark

Singing off-key these borrowed breakup songs

Fierce to the teeth 

Lost until I know

You will be


The Girl in the picture

haunts me with her gray

Soul, robbed of light

Too young to ever choose this 

She is a ghost

Who in all other aspects

Resembles me–

Breastplate taken in battle.

Which is why I see your face before 

Me always

The iron bars invisible to all but

We two

Jailed by men with carved out hearts

I carry you, darling

Close to my own

Beg the God of air and light 

To teach us how

To fly

Away from the shadows

Where ordinary humans claw and devour 

All but unaware 

They have bartered their own

Nearly extinguished 

Eternal selves

For shreds of ashen dung

Pretend you go

pretend you had a lost daughter

Who in your mind will always be

A beautiful baby girl

Now pretend that in order to survive

You start to see your beautiful lost baby

In everyone

Then “everyone” starts to do things they really should not do

Go places they should not go

Smash through rules…

designed for their safety

So you, poor sot, try to warn them away…

From the crap they should not get into

But they don’t really wanna listen

Because who the heck are you anyway?

(Half-crazed stranger with some lost kid)

Yet you still 

love them

You know because you lost a child.

So you go find them

In the crack houses

Strip joints

And IRS offices where they work

…and screw up royally

Because you know

That is what love does

Abstract-I get it

So let me try once more–

Years ago I rode on a bus in a country men travelled to in order to have “legal” sex with minors.

A white man got on the bus with a girl from this other country.

A girl, not a woman.

We.  The people on the bus.  Watched them travel together.  Knowing (ball-parking, at least)…their destination.

Their terrible destination.

If she is alive somewhere I would hold her

Tell her her “job” was not her fault 

Tell her I love you

(No matter what)

–I love you

Now please darling, 

Come home.

The Spanish Pedophile, Daniel Galvan

It needs to be said–crimes against children are regrettably common worldwide. Most go unreported.

The story causing justifiable outrage in Morocco right now is worth examining.

A sixty year old European pedophile is convicted of raping 11 children and then pardoned by the Moroccan king.


But even worse is the subtext: pedophiles from first world countries travel to poorer countries to prey on children who have few legal or economic protections.

We send our predators abroad. They go abroad knowing that their victims will have no chance.

And if by some chance they get caught after violating the lives of young kids?

Pardon them?
Send them home?
Pretend you were not told their crimes?

God does not forget. We will all be held to an account for the crimes against children that did not evoke outrage.

Jesus whipped men for less.
We turn away.

Stan Who Had Two Dads

Dearest Boy,

After I read about you I wrote a bunch of stuff. Then I walked, prayed, and cried. Some people won’t tell your story out of fear; others only out of fear.

But what I am afraid of is this–that no one will be there to heal the damage, that no one will tell you

none of this is your fault, and little of it needs to define you.

You deserve to survive this. You deserve birthday parties and pony rides, rock climbing and ice cream. You deserve to sit at a table with people who see you, know your story, and say I love you, Stan. You are a great kid..

Just because you were raised by wolves…doesn’t mean you are one.

No, dear, Lamb, you are a boy. Loved by a real Dad…the only one who can heal us all from the monsters, smiling in the picture: so broken.

The Resilient Child

Children are resilient.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this….

The truth is children are not any more resilient than adults. They are helpless and not yet mature enough to understand or control the harm done to them. We all carry our wounds with us, and children need vigorous advocates, not cheap platitudes.

My friend tells a story: he was quite young and won a prize at a picnic. An older child tricked him into relinquishing his winning ticket. Only later did he understand the trust he had placed in the older child was misplaced and he had been cheated.

Small story, but one he tells to this day with a sense of injustice. How much more are the truly harmful things that happen to children wounds we carry into adulthood?

So think about my small story the next time someone says children are resilient. If you want your child to recover from the wounds of deception, abuse, or cruelty in a darkened world you will have to be their advocate and physician– providing a safe place to heal, a shoulder to grieve on, and a tough mama or daddy to fight for them. Fight for the safety of the little ones.

You be the resilient one. Speak out.