One by one they fall;
one by one in response come formal inquiries.
One by one, throat clearing and disapprovals.
No one calls it a pileup or a pile on.
No one calls it a trend or epidemic.
Each instance is an isolated incident
and unique and now we move on.
One by one by one and now there are
three and then three dozen and then
three hundred or more of them. Thousands,
perhaps hundreds of thousands.
No one calls it out the same way twice.
No one says it’s deliberate, built in, systemic.
No one knows the right thing to say
and now we move on.
One by one by one and now there’s wind
and red glare and names and mistakes
and deliberate choices. One by one. Steady drip
of incidents. Steady drip, drip, one by one by one
of blood and tears. No one dares admit it’s a war.
No one thinks fighting back makes any sense.
No one by no one saying the right things.
Body by body, one by one, no one calling it
until no one left can say a bloody thing.