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

  • (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

    7 person liked.
    14 person did not like.
  • 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

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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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