A Poem on New York’s Abortion Law, by Amy Foreman The Society March 12, 2019 Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Poetry 41 Comments Room 402: Gehenna Comes to New York (On Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Jan. 22,2019 repeal of New York’s Public Health Law § 4164) Note: “Room 402” does not refer to any specific event happening in a certain room, but was chosen at random to represent any room in which a late-term abortion takes place. “Gehenna” and “Tophet” are Biblical metonyms for hell, and also refer to a valley near Jerusalem where Israelites once participated in the sacrifice of their own children, burning them alive in the hands of the Canaanite idol Molech (also Moloch, Malcam, or Milcom). The children of her forebears died ___more expeditiously when fires of infanticide ___consumed them viciously. Oh, sure, they suffered in the haze ___of smoke and drums and song, but life surrendered to the blaze ___of heat before too long. Each spirit quit its tiny frame ___of flesh, so charred and black. The mercy of the eager flame ___lies in its swift attack. It’s cold in Molech’s hands today; ___she startles, shivers, stills upon the counter in a tray ___of blood that quickly chills. Once swaddled warmly in the womb, ___now naked, head to toe, extracted to this sterile room ___about an hour ago. “No doctors will be called,” they said, ___while cleaning up the mess. “In just a moment she’ll be dead; ___we’ll call this a success.” And now they’ve left; the door is shut; ___the lights have been turned off: Room 402 abandoned, but ___she waits, in stainless trough for Tophet’s god to stop the breath ___within her lungs so small. This isolated, frigid death ___is cruelest of them all. Amy Foreman hails from the southern Arizona desert, where she homesteads with her husband and seven children. She has enjoyed teaching both English and Music at the college level, but is now focused on home-schooling her children, gardening, farming, and writing. Her blog is theoccasionalcaesura.wordpress.com Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 41 Responses Sathyanarayana March 12, 2019 A very touching poem. So poignant with every line breaking our hearts. Kudos. Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 Thank you, Sathyanarayana. Reply Joseph S. Salemi March 12, 2019 Mrs. Foreman, this is a profoundly sad poem, and the imagery is appropriately excruciating. Andrew Cuomo is, like his father Mario, a corrupt and evil piece of garbage. He will do anything to appease the left-liberal fanatics who dominate New York politics. This is why he has approved infanticide. Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 Thank you, Joseph Salemi. I wish there was no need to write such a poem. Ironically, the same liberals who push this evil agenda also push strongly for young children to have complete “body autonomy,” even going so far as to tell parents to ask their babies for consent before changing a diaper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UxiSuNMtm8 Do they ever step back and see how asinine they are? Any almost-born or already born child who is unfortunate enough to face a doctor who kills rather than a doctor who heals has ZERO “body autonomy” and no opportunity to give consent. Reply E. V. March 12, 2019 Well said, Prof. Salemi! Reply Hugh Maclean March 13, 2019 A woman should have the right to choose. Mothers forced to have children every year under certain religions are akin to domestic slaves. Let the woman choose its her life as well. Reply Joseph S. Salemi March 13, 2019 Back again, Hughie? Why don’t you just go back to stuffing envelopes for your favorite anti-Semite, Jeremy Corbyn? That’s more your speed. Martin Rizley March 13, 2019 A woman’s choice concerning her life must respect the child’s right to live. Some women, feeling themselves incapable of raising a child, have made the very painful decision of surrendering the child to be adopted by loving, worthy parents. But how can it ever be considered a legitimate option for a woman to make a choice regarding her own life that involves taking the life of another human being– even her own child? Hamster moms may eat their own babies, but how can the irrational behaviour of beasts provide a model for human conduct? God calls us to a higher road than that of the hamster. C.B. Anderson March 12, 2019 It’s ironic that such abominations, which in China are carried out by the use of force, are here in the USA simply an option available to any mother who chooses to exercise it. What kind of choice is that?! Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 Apologies, C.B., that my reply to you ended up several comments down. Reply E. V. March 12, 2019 Amy, when we speak about “the power of the pen”, we’re referencing the skills of poets and writers like you. Other than SCP, I don’t know of any other venue that would be brave enough to publish this powerful truth. Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 Thank you, E.V., and thanks to the SCP for publishing on topics like this. Reply Martin March 12, 2019 An expertly crafted and powerful exposé of a great evil being tolerated in our day– an evil lies under the veil of euphemisms by which the left tries to cover up the murder of infants whose births are judged by adults to be “inconvenient.” Heartwrenching images painted with an economy of words. I hope this poem is widely read. Thank you for posting it. Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 Thank you, Martin, for your kind words. Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 Exactly, C.B. Anderson. China’s communism and the growing movement of the left (socialism) within our own country are two sides of the same ugly coin. Forced abortions in China achieve the same result as voluntary “chosen” abortions in the U.S. “There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.” (Ayn Rand) Reply James Sale March 13, 2019 A very powerful and disturbing poem, Amy, well done. I note too your comments on the total contradiction in the left-wing liberal’s position on this, which shouldn’t surprise us since the absence of consistency is one of the left-wing liberal’s defining characteristics: liberal but totalitarian. In the UK it is the liberals who most adamantly are insisting on supporting democracy by invalidating the democratic decision to leave the EU. And I like your Ayn quote, and here’s another for you and us to think about: “The difference between communism and socialism is that under socialism central planning ends with a gun in your face, whereas under communism central planning begins with a gun in your face” – Kevin Williamson Reply Hugh Maclean March 13, 2019 This applies equally to right wing dictatorships. Need a bit of balance here please. Amy Foreman March 13, 2019 The quote by Williamson is excellent, James. And thank you for your kind comment. Hugh Maclean March 13, 2019 Capitalism enslaves people if you are among the many trapped by poverty. America is one of the most unequal societies in the Western world. Communism at least did not abandon you to such degradation. State protections were built in such as housing, medical care, and work. Yes it was not a lavish western lifestyle but is was basic security. And yes I know Stalin killed many, and sent thousands of dissidents to the gulag. However this is how all dictatorships work left and right. Look at Chile under Pinochet where many citizens disappeared. Reply James Sale March 13, 2019 When you see people defending communism in this way – Stalin killed a few thousand, apparently – ignoring the fact that he, Mao, and others killed tens of millions then we are beyond debate: we are in our ideological fantasy world. It is true that cartel capitalism has corrupted the West and we need to return to a real form of capitalism, because only capitalism actually provides our freedoms and services. As the great Jordan B. Peterson expressed it: “If there was any excuse to be a Marxist in 1917, there is absolutely and finally no excuse now”. Anyone who cannot see that is blind to history. And so far as the other issue is concerned, women – no more than men – do not have an absolute right with their bodies; some things are in themselves wrong. Committing suicide being one of them (except of course in certain very extreme situations: e.g. kami kazi in WW2 committed but for a higher cause); killing foetuses – real, about-to-be human beings is another. And Amy’s parallel with Moloch is very apt: secularisation is actually and bizarrely producing a pagan society rather than a godless one. Amy Foreman March 13, 2019 Inequality in outcomes is nothing, Hugh. There will always be outcome inequality: one person is naturally intelligent, good-looking, strong, or savvy . . . another is naturally unattractive, weak, sickly, or feeble-minded. There will be those who are, from the cradle, backed by money and there will be those born into poverty. “The poor you will always have with you.” (Jesus Christ) America does not function to provide equality of outcome. Instead, America provides freedom of opportunity: “the pursuit of happiness,” not “happiness.” Having traveled the former USSR, staying in the homes of many residents there and hearing their stories, I will never be convinced that citizens of a country scarred by communism will have the opportunity present in America, not unless their country completely transforms into another America. Unlike those former Soviet block nations, in America, if you don’t like your situation, you are free to try to change it, to better yourself and those you love. You might succeed at changing your situation, or you might fail; it is not the duty of America to make sure that you succeed or to prevent you from failure. It is only the function of America to grant you the “inalienable right” to make the attempt. You will notice the constant stream of Latin American immigrants rushing the southern border of our country, desperate to enter and work in a country that provides freedom of opportunity. You will also notice that there is no rush of U.S. citizens streaming down to slip across Mexico’s northern border, desperate to enter Mexico so that they can work a minimum-wage job and send back paychecks to their starving families in the U.S. Of course, if people like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez come into power, we may very well see mass emigration . . . 😉 The sentence “Communism at least did not abandon you to such degradation” is rubbish, and unless you are living in a culvert under a rotting bridge in subzero weather, you know it is rubbish. I have spent time with children living in a four foot high dugout cave in Moldova; I have never seen children living in such conditions in America–though I have seen and worked with the poorest of the poor. One more thing, Hugh. It is an offensive travesty when leftists cry crocodile tears for the poor illegal immigrants seeking asylum in this country, saying that these are the most vulnerable among us, and that we must protect them, when simultaneously they push for each woman’s right to destroy the absolutely most vulnerable among us: the defenseless child in her womb, who only seeks asylum and a “safe space.” Walk away from such nonsense, Hugh, and open your heart and mind to the truth. Hugh Maclean March 14, 2019 Thanks for your response Amy. I feel we are politically very different in particular on the causes of inequality. Your argument on people born into lesser stations in life as a result of innate qualities signifying inferiority to others is flawed. Most research points to the social circumstances one is born into- poverty, poor housing, limited education, as well as parental levels of education and employment status that predisposes many to disadvantaged lives. Where the state intervenes to improve conditions in deprived areas evidence suggests outcomes are much improved for upward mobility of many. In Britain the introduction of comprehensive schools as well as expansion of higher education saw a generation benefit in employment opportunities and social status. The Open University, introduced by a Labour Government, allowed opportunities for those who missed out on earlier education. Most of the improvements in our society since the war have been the result of state intervention by Labour governments to address areas of the economy where the market fails to work. However since Thatcher and Reagan imposed neoliberal systems curtailing state action Britain has become unequal in alarming measures. A decent society has been left to the brutal market with the wealthy taking ever more of the national income for themselves. I am not a communist or particularly socialist just an advocate of proper controls on capitalism that is destructive of many lives abandoned to poverty and no opportunities. Amy Foreman March 14, 2019 Thank you, Hugh. You state: “Most research points to the social circumstances one is born into- poverty, poor housing, limited education, as well as parental levels of education and employment status that predisposes many to disadvantaged lives.” What is your definition of a “disadvantaged” life, Hugh? Do you mean someone lives below the United States’ national poverty level? Do you refer to someone who never finished high school or got a college degree? Do you mean a person who works a minimum wage job? And can you, with intellectual and factual honesty, say that the poorer citizens of capitalistic countries are more disadvantaged than even the middle-class citizens of communist regimes like North Korea, where the GDP per capita is $1800? If any middle-class North Korean were given the opportunities and freedom we have every day in the U.S., you can bet that he would gladly trade his current lot and embrace capitalism, warts and all. From malnutrition, backyard privies, and lack of electricity to the potential for steady employment with opportunity for advancement, reliable electricity, and indoor plumbing: there is really no comparison. Let me share a personal story with you, Hugh. I have seven children, and though our family’s income has, throughout the years, occasionally slipped below the national poverty level, I would never consider that we are disadvantaged. Never. The freedom to raise our children as we see fit, the opportunities always around each next bend: these are distinct ADVANTAGES for which we are consistently grateful. We enjoy singing together for pleasure and for social events. I remember, years ago, at one of those events, I got a glimpse into the lives of three women visiting from Red China, who left their fellow tourists to come with their interpreter and speak to me. I remember how we were that day, our seven children, some still babies, lined up, seated, next to us and on my lap. We had whispered, giggled, burped the littlest one, stayed as still and quiet as we could for the speaker, and then had sung, my harmony joining with their treble angel voices. Afterward, those Chinese sisters came and stood before me, shyly smiling. I returned their smile, but didn’t speak, wondering what they needed. A picture with the singing family? A “thank you” for our part in the program? Then their interpreter, an American man, stepped forward. He looked at me sadly, and said, “These women have been staring at your family for the last two hours. They have never had the chance to see a big family, and some of them have been crying.” He looked at the women, who glanced self-consciously at me and then returned their gazes to the floor. “You see,” he went on, “Some of the women in our group wanted a family like this, but in China, it is forbidden. So they want to talk to you.” With that, he walked away. The next twenty minutes of my life was spent with three beautiful and gentle almond-eyed women, who, in very broken English, told me of their mostly disappointing love affairs with babies. One of them had moved to a remote spot in the country, hoping to have her babies in privacy, without the government’s intrusion. She had given birth to her first-born, a son, in the city, thinking the one would be enough. But once initiated to the addictive joys of motherhood, she had craved more. There, in the country, she had soldiered through her second, third and fourth pregnancies, hoping for the anonymity that would let those little ones enter her family in peace. But the Communist arm was too long for her. Each time, toward the end, when her condition could no longer be denied, she was arrested, drugged, and divested of her “burden.” She held up four fingers to tell me that this had happened four times. She would have had five children now. Five. Another woman held up three fingers. The last had forgotten how many times she had undergone the state’s forced abortions, but, she said, through tears, “If I live in America, my family like yours.” So she would have had, perhaps, seven beautiful babies; she would have had that pleasure, that highest of joys, that I celebrate every day. Shaken by their narrative, I began to cry, in sorrow for their loss and in anger and for their powerlessness against the cruel regulation of a faceless government. Those women would have given anything, anything, to have carried those tiny lives safely into this world. But they were thwarted in that wish, not by Nature or the culpabilities of their own health or strength, but by an external Hand of Evil, reaching into their most private parts, violating them, snuffing out the life they carried, extinguishing all hope. I was reminded then, and I am reminded now, in this conversation, that we are blessed to live in a land where we have an “inalienable right” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Anyone who promotes the alternatives of Communism or Socialism needs to spend twenty minutes talking to three women who have had their liberty trampled, their children’s lives forcibly terminated, and their pursuit of happiness squashed by an Evil state. No “disadvantage” in a free country can compare to the gross injustice of a powerful centralized government. Yolanda Elder March 12, 2019 I hurt with the images painted by this author. Reply Amy Foreman March 12, 2019 So did I, in writing this, Yolanda. Thank you for your response to the poem. Reply David Watt March 13, 2019 A direct and confronting poem, which undoubtedly required great strength to write. Well done Amy for harnessing your poetic skills to the carriage of truth. Reply Amy Foreman March 13, 2019 Thank you, David. Reply Wilbur Dee Case March 13, 2019 Ms. Foreman’s poem is excellent, worthy of a New Millennial anthology. She likewise sees the value of the ballad for docupoetry. Here is why I admire the poem, stanza by stanza: 1. The opening stanza, rhetorically historical, inaugurates the serious tone. 2. S2 moves directly from the latinate opening to a simpler, anglo-saxon diction. 3. The clinical tone of S3 is remarkable for its understatement. 4. In S4 the use of the Biblical Moloch, more restrained than Ginsberg’s use in “Howl”, contributes to the ruthless situation described dispassionately, and which therefore, is all the more passionate in its sympathy. 5. The use of the alliterative labial glide in L17 of S5 vividly contrasts with the bluntness of the following lines. For that reason it reminds me of Randall Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”. 6. S6 is as brutally frank as Stephen Crane’s terse, free-verse poems, but with the added depth of meter and rhyme. Her use of “success”, though not the same, reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s “Success is Counted Sweetest”. The off-handed quotes add to the horror of the situation. 7. In S7 the short main clauses, the random number, and the unfinished sentence all add to the intensity of the situation, and 8. the echo of the second Biblical god from L13-S4 to L29-S8 demonstrates remarkable poetic technique. With “cruelest”, an Eliotic echo, I am convinced, in Ms. Foreman’s poem, that she is writing about our present moment while working through the American tradition. Really, I think about my only qualm with the poem, which is my favourite @ SCP this year, is its title. Reply Amy Foreman March 13, 2019 Bruce, thank you so much for this detailed and accurate analysis of “Room 402.” I am honored that you gave it your attention and expertise. Reply David Paul Behrens March 13, 2019 Although the subject is not at all funny, I say this in jest: I am dreadfully waiting for the day when some liberal proposes post-birth abortion, whereby you will be allowed to kill a child before it can talk, because if it can’t talk, it is not really a person. Amy, this poem is excellent in every way. Reply Amy Foreman March 13, 2019 ” . . . if it can’t talk, it is not really a person” reminds me of the “poetry” of Hannah Silva we were treated to yesterday on the SCP, and I wonder (also in jest): Would a future “talk-ability” abortion law apply equally to adults who move their mouths but say nothing? Thank you for your comment, David. Reply Theresa Rodriguez March 18, 2019 Thank you Amy for your bravery and courage in writing this poem. The subject of abortion is heavy on my heart as well. If you look up my name in the search here on the website you will find a sonnet I wrote entitled “Goodbye, Sweet Fetal Child” which was published on March 18, 2015. It echoes much of your sentiments. I hope you would like to read it. God bless you and your family. Reply The Society March 18, 2019 https://classicalpoets.org/2015/03/18/goodbye-sweet-fetal-child-by-theresa-rodriguez/ Reply Amy Foreman March 18, 2019 Your poem is moving, heartbreaking, and eloquent, Theresa. Thank you so much for directing me to it. I would like to reproduce it here, since it fits the topic so aptly and poignantly: ‘Goodbye, Sweet Fetal Child’ by Theresa Rodriguez Goodbye, sweet fetal child— for you shall die, Because a mother’s love is also dead: The hallowed place of nurture where you lie Shall soon become the ground where blood is shed. The battle to reject the womanly, Or motherly, for ‘me, myself and I’ Shall forfeit noble care of progeny (That greater good): hence hearts have gone awry. The battlefield where ‘what is hers’ to keep Claims hedonistic ‘choice’ its weaponry; But poison, scalpel, pill or force will reap That fruit, bare yet the casualty. For those untimely born, it must suffice That they, not choice, become the sacrifice. Reply Theresa Rodriguez March 18, 2019 Thanks so much for re-posting it Amy. It is an honor to be included within the comments for your excellent poem. james sale March 19, 2019 Your poetry is wonderful, Amy, and your commentary is measured, appropriate and virtually irrefutable on the issue of motherhood versus murder. However, this is not what the compatriots of the Left wish to hear as they blindly pursue their dogma. I imagine that Hugh from his last comments must be British, since he presumes to comment on the British scene so knowledgeably; however, I am British too, or rather as I prefer, English, and before going into business 25 years ago was deputy Principal (or Headteacher as we call them) of two large English Comprehensive Schools and taught for 15 years. His account of the ‘benefits’ of the Comprehensive school – as they abolished the traditional Grammar Schools – misses out quite a lot, including the subsequent lack of social mobility for children in these schools. Equally, his account of the politics of Britain at the time is also highly selective: I was there in the 70s when we had the miner’s strike, the blackouts, the almost total political paralysis (which we are heading into now) and a trade union under Jack Jones far more powerful than the government of the day. Levels of service in just about everything were dire. It was Thatcher who unpicked all of that. But what can we say to these people? The fatuous idea that we give government more power and control and they’ll make things fairer and more ‘equal’ has – what? – ever been witnessed, anywhere? Put politicians in charge of us and they conspire with the plutocrats, or wipe the plutocrats away and create the oligarchs. Jeez! Save us, please. Reply Hugh Maclean March 19, 2019 Absolute nonsense from start to finish. Comprehensive schools ended the 11+, an exam at age 11 to decide if you erecacademic or not. If you were classed as not social mobility ended. Rather young for such huge decisions I would say. The Tory fallacy of the 1970’s winter of discontent, almost as ludicrous as the new Tory fallacy of Labour causing the world financial crash in 2008, suggests James is victim of Mr Murdoch’s propaganda machine. Yes there were problems in 1979 with unions who had agreed to Barbara Castle’s social contract and had accepted wage controls for the three previous years, very modest and reasonable union behaviour, however in the fourth year the unions had had enough of the pay freeze and asked the government to restore pay to acceptable levels. This led to widespread strikes when the government refused. Thatcher along with Reagan introduced austerity and high interest rates that closed most of Britain’s manufacturing industries creating 4 million unemployed. Her government began the policies of derugalation that led to the financial crash; removed workers rights and allowed some 25% of the national income to shift from makers(workers) to takers(the extremely rich); decimated public services by allowing incompetent private companies to run services down to maximise profits and shareholders payouts; privatised utilities where ordinary people cannot afford to heat their homes and feed themselves. James you sound as though you have lived in a gated community for the last 40 years nd consequently are indifferent,and pretty clueless, about how people actually live in the UK and That other country England. I repeat all the decent and progressive things that have happened in the UK since the war were put in place by state action through the Labour Party considering ordinary people. Reply James Sale March 19, 2019 Thank you for your words, Amy. My default position is always to listen and respect another person’s POV. But I find it very difficult to respect Hugh Maclean’s aggressive and ill-informed ‘certain certainties’. Amy has given an incredibly personal and moving testimony, involving her motherhood, her travels and various experiences. What has Hugh to say? Has he said, ‘I understand – perhaps I may be mistaken.’ Or something, conciliatory. Or in my case, having established that I was a deputy principal in 2 comprehensive schools, you’d think he might enquire as to what my experience exactly is. Indeed, not only was I a principal in 2, but I have actually been in over 100 State schools in England either as a teacher, or trainer or coach. And I have had over 30 educational books published, including one best seller with Pearsons, the world’s biggest publisher. You’d think that anyone with any sense would just pause before striking out at their adversary, might just give them some credit for knowing something, for having a view that may be interesting. But no. The Left just has this ideological and theoretical view of the world in which there are no shades of grey and so they virtue-signal their self-righteousness and dismiss everyone else’s experience. People like you Hugh, sadly, are going to lead us all into the fascism of communism unless enough of us resist your cant. That is all I have to say here, because these pages are for poetry, not deluded communists trying to prove they’re ‘right’. Amy Foreman March 19, 2019 Yes, James, given your extensive experience in the English school system as educator and author, it would seem that anyone conversing with you would refrain from responding with the obviously nescient generalization: “Absolute nonsense from start to finish.” But “perhaps I may be mistaken” is so much harder to say! 😉 James Sale March 19, 2019 Thanks Amy, appreciate what you are doing and writing. Amy Foreman March 19, 2019 James, thank you for adding your experiential knowledge of the Comprehensive Schools and of the trade unions and strikes of the seventies, before Thatcher. I know little of British education or politics and didn’t feel comfortable commenting on either. Ultimately, it comes down to the philosophy/belief system behind each type of government. And I would argue that when any governmental philosophy starts with the “particulars”–starts with humanity–and then seeks to extrapolate, from their own humanity, the “universals” by which they create the laws for their society, their entire structure is built on the sand, and destined for destruction. Both socialism and communism, which are based upon humanist, “particular” worldviews, can stand up to light foot traffic and fair weather. But when the 10 ton trucks and the storms of life come, socialism and communism are revealed for what they are: invasive, totalitarian, elitist machines built on nothing but the pleasure of the ones in power. And even the communists and socialists realize that their greatest enemies are those with a worldview anchored on the rock of absolute Truth. On the other hand, when governmental philosophy’s begins with the absolute (God), and then applies that absolute to the particulars, as the founders of the United States of America did, that government will, to the best of its ability, allow its citizens the right to live, the right to be free, and the right to pursue happiness. Basically, when those in power realize that and absolute (God) exists, and that THEY ARE NOT THAT GOD, and that each person has intrinsic value equal to their own value, they can allow their citizens to, according to the standards of that absolute, chart their own individual destinies. 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