The Hands of a Dead Rebel

by Carine Topal

Let this be here along a creek, in a swamp, on such a dawn, or such a dawn, these hands we know, the folded, the dying, hands singed by fire, the certain blackness of his hair.

Across our lips—

the black and scarlet of his skin, the village mourns his hands remain. Let this be here his resting place, his hamlet church, the certain blackness of his hair.

Music / video composition by Victor David Sandiego

Carine Topal is a transplanted New Yorker living in the southern California desert. Her work has appeared in The Best of the Prose Poem, Greensboro Review, Spoon River Poetry Anthology, and many other journals and anthologies. Her 2nd collection of poetry, “Bed of Want,” won the 2007 Robert G. Cohen Prose Poetry Award. Topal’s 3rd collection, “In the Heaven of Never Before,” was published in 2008 by Moon Tide Press. She is the recipient of the 2015 Briar Cliff Review Award for Poetry. Her prize-winning book, Tattooed, won the 4th Biennial Chapbook Contest from Palettes and Quills, recently released in July, 2015.


I just came across this. Very powerful reading. The music adds so much too. Thank you Carine and Subprimal for your production.
Georgia Tree, Jul 21, 2014
Love the audio for this verse and the sentiment in its entirety. What warrior lost to battle isn't honored in the lyrics? Thanks for that. Your lines took me back to the only visit I ever made to Arlington Cemetery passing a grave marked "Blue" to say a few words for a fallen soldier under a free. My eyes closed and my head was swept away by bands of clouds. I wish I had been able to see the hands, the hair, the eyes of those people passing, but surely that energy told me they were all still with us, helping.
Marcia Goldberg, Apr 22, 2014
Awesome piece! I like how you captured the feeling!
Emily, Apr 18, 2014
This is amazing poetry. It is such a fresh, immediate use of language. This scene of war, pain, death is about grief--the recognition of the hands, the way they fold--The resting place is the memory of his hands and the blackness of his hair. A moving poem in very few words. Lovely.
Bonnie Roberts, Apr 10, 2014
Of the poems that I've read here, this is one of my favorites. There's a simplicity about it that I like, but a darkness too. The music works well with it.
Lee Johanson, Mar 18, 2014
Powerful and empathetic imagery -- and I love the poem's use of repetitive phrases, its music.
Judith Pacht, Aug 17, 2013