The Victims Poem by Sharon Olds

The Victims

Rating: 3.5

When Mother divorced you, we were glad. She took it and
took it in silence, all those years and then
kicked you out, suddenly, and her
kids loved it. Then you were fired, and we
grinned inside, the way people grinned when
Nixon's helicopter lifted off the South
Lawn for the last time. We were tickled
to think of your office taken away,
your secretaries taken away,
your lunches with three double bourbons,
your pencils, your reams of paper. Would they take your
suits back, too, those dark
carcasses hung in your closet, and the black
noses of your shoes with their large pores?
She had taught us to take it, to hate you and take it
until we pricked with her for your
annihilation, Father. Now I
pass the bums in doorways, the white
slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their
suits of compressed silt, the stained
flippers of their hands, the underwater
fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the
lanterns lit, and I wonder who took it and
took it from them in silence until they had
given it all away and had nothing
left but this.

Raymond Farrell 08 June 2015

Alcoholism is a disease, and it obviously caused great damage to Ms. Olds and her family. Her father clearly needed professional help, and I don't believe he got it. Sharon Olds herself has a lot of unresolved issues herself. This poem is mean spirited and removes the chance of reconciliation with a person, another human being, her father, even if he were to have changed and reformed, and if makes the resolving of her inner turmoil unlikely too. Her turmail may be the source of her poetry but it is not a source of happiness.

10 18 Reply
Victim 09 February 2018

Reconciliation isn't always an option, even if her father did get help he will always be that person. Sometimes its best to just forgive and move on without that person in your life

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Bill Grace 23 October 2005

Olds looks like necessary reading to me.

12 6 Reply
Bill Grace 05 January 2009

Energy and truth. To write like this. Bill Grace

12 5 Reply
L. K. Thayer 25 December 2007

darkly lit and full of light. stark and harsh

15 2 Reply

And I totally disagree with Raymond Farrel. The poet does not linger in the unpleasant past. She is a survivor

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Sharon reminisces of her old melancholy days here. A great piece of poetry. Appreciated

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Sally Plumb Plumb 23 April 2020

Man can’t exist without woman.

3 1 Reply
Ratnakar Mandlik 20 September 2019

The complexities of modern age life like children celebrating divorce of parents beautifully presented. A well deserved modern poem of the day.

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Benjamin Uy 20 September 2019

A sad great poem about the disentigration of a family, Sharon Olds is one of the great Poetess of our dark times, thanks for the rereadings

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