There Are No Ghosts In Chechnya

Sam Sax


my brothers are made to sit upon bottles in chechnya.

in chechnya my brothers are made to bleed. caught up

inside a prophylactic sweep, no one’s a homosexual

in Chechnya a spokesperson speaks, says if such people

existed... law enforcement would not have to worry

as their own relatives would have sent them to where

they could never return to chechnya. my brothers

are broken inside an electrical current, are beaten

between the ages of fifty and fifteen. you cannot arrest

or repress people who just don’t exist. my brothers

do not exist in chechnya. how language can make

& unmake what lives. a people erased. a deleted phrase.

a desire emptied as a bottle you’re made to take inside:

this is not a poem. the missiles are beautiful. i’m not

weeping as i write this. there are no ghosts in chechnya.



sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, the MacDowell Colony.