Kristin LaTour


The Kaytn Forest Massacre


Shots fired
to the lower rear of the head
a clean hole from a pistol
one hole for entering
another for exiting
were not enough

bodies placed side by side
officer's woolen winter coats
hats placed on their heads
covered in soil
freezing hard over winter
holding them still and grouped
a massive embrace


disinterred by Germans
Polish faces still covered in white
skin, eye lids still closed
coats keeping them covered
even though warmth receeded

black and white pictures
removed from coats' pockets
held up before a movie camera
blonde and brunette ladies
white skin, curled hair
chubby babies
in bathubs, against chests, on chairs
smiling and toothless

doctors saying they had been buried for weeks
in this forest
not at the front line
or in camps, eating stale bread, drinking bad coffee

women saw their own faces
on screens in movie theaters
and probably collapsed
or stared unbelieving


after first blessing and reburial
softening into food for worms and trees
shading forest floor in Russia
the ground turning to mud, promising spring
then fall, covered in leaves,
freezing again, thawing,
grass growing over large mounds
forest swallowing what it needs


years later, to be uncovered again
by Russians this time
now lacking flesh, just flaps
black and white and grey
falling away from white skulls
showing holes again
entering and exiting
doctors trying to cleanse history
with a report on white paper about dirty bodies
now mismatched
from their families
and their lives far passed by


second blessing and third burial
left now to disintegrate into soil
beyond being nutrients
silent coming
and going of nature's cycles

decades pass
the forest breathes
freezes, thaws
the animals pass over
there are no headstones
bodies are beyond caring

when truth is unearthed
the blamed are as dead as the blameless

I'm a poet living outside of Chicago in Aurora, IL. I teach at Joliet Jr. College, and am active in Chicago's poetry circles, especially by performing at open mics. I have two chapbooks, Red Beaver Lake, Minnesota published by Pudding house Press, and Blood published by Naked Mannequin press. My work has appeared in After Hours, Pearl, and online at and New Verse News.

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