Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

The Victims - Poem by Sharon Olds

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.

Comments about The Victims by Sharon Olds

  • Lyn Paul (9/20/2018 4:16:00 PM)

    These words reminded me of my parents separating.
    We were free from violence and no longer needed to fear.
    (Report) Reply

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  • Edward Kofi Louis (9/20/2018 1:01:00 PM)

    Being abused! !

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
    (Report) Reply

  • Rose Marie Juan-austin (9/20/2018 9:43:00 AM)

    Abuses in any form whether domestic, in workplace or anywhere else create a deep impact in an individual, a wound
    that might be treated in due time or will remain and shape the person's character.
    A meaningful poem on a sensitive issue.
    Beautifully crafted and well executed write. Vividly portrayed.10
    (Report) Reply

  • Anil Kumar Panda (9/20/2018 6:52:00 AM)

    A heart touching poem on how one suffers when being abused. Thanks for sharing. Deserved to be chosen as the poem of the day. (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (9/20/2018 4:49:00 AM)

    This sad poem on abuse by men has some fantastic images in it. 'Nixon's helicopter lifted off the South Lawn' and 'Those dark carcasses hung in your closet' (Report) Reply

  • Practicing Poetess (9/20/2018 2:31:00 AM)

    The point that Ms. Olds makes is, whether it's domestic violence (battery) , non-support, alcohol or drug addiction, molesting the children, criminal activity, or cheating on the wife- - the children are scarred far more if the situation continues and is ongoing, , than they will be if they have the hope of a future without all the abnormality. A well-written poem about unpleasant reality. (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (9/20/2018 2:07:00 AM)

    Beautiful poem having touching expression with nice theme. It is justified to be choosen as the poem of the day. (Report) Reply

  • Mahtab Bangalee (9/20/2018 2:01:00 AM)

    here two glasses fire
    and there holy veins

    burning and burning
    intoxicating minds and burned sight

    under the mountain of opposite Poles
    two insipid souls lonely love to live..............
    (Report) Reply

  • Petals Azureblue (9/20/2018 1:15:00 AM)

    Abusive environment can lead to skepticism and paranoia too. This poem short as it is, packages the whole picture of abuse, effects on family, separation and enduring ramifications of abuse on victims and victims by proximity...into a neat bundle. Thank you for sharing Sharon. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (9/20/2018 1:05:00 AM)

    Such a well penned poem by Sharon Olds...................... (Report) Reply

  • (6/8/2015 5:35:00 AM)

    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. (Report) Reply

    (2/9/2018 5:20:00 PM)

    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

  • Charles Jagongo Ogola (11/30/2014 12:09:00 AM)

    A wonderful poem. I enjoyed reading this poem. (Report) Reply

  • (5/15/2014 11:22:00 AM)

    A harsh, truthful piece filled with the power of unresolved feelings. Nicely done. (Report) Reply

  • (1/5/2009 1:30:00 AM)

    Energy and truth. To write like this. Bill Grace (Report) Reply

  • (12/25/2007 4:50:00 AM)

    darkly lit and full of light. stark and harsh (Report) Reply

  • (10/23/2005 12:20:00 AM)

    Olds looks like necessary reading to me. (Report) Reply

Read all 17 comments »

# 341 poem on top 500 Poems

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Read poems about / on: silence, hate, father, mother, fire, people, dark, time

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, January 7, 2004

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