Sartell man responds to horror through poetry

The killings of school children and teachers in Connecticut continues to elicit powerful responses nationwide – sorrow, outrage, tears, calls for reforms and, in the case of a Sartell man, poetry.

Dennis Herschbach was so disturbed and saddened by the cold-blooded killings that he felt compelled to channel his emotions into the form of poetry.

Before moving to Sartell a few years ago, Herschbach had been a high-school teacher for many years at Two Harbors on Minnesota’s North Shore. He is the award-winning author of four books – most recently a suspense-mystery novel entitled “Convergence at Two Harbors.” His other books are a prose-poetry meditation on the loss of a loved one, “Grief Journey;” a memoir about growing up, “Brown Sugar Syrup and Jack Pine Sand;” and a book of poetry inspired by Two Harbors, “South First and Lakefront.”

The following are Herschbach’s two poems about his reactions to the school shootings.

Dec. 14, 2012

by Dennis Herschbach

I know that the willow weeps,

its branches draped down,

sweeping the ground

like a mother’s hair when she mourns,

forming a canopy

where children once played

games of come find me.


I know that the ice groans

in the face of bitter north winds

piling slabs like blue-glass on shore,

plates that grind against each other

in a cold too bitter to bear.


I know that rocks slide

down mountain slopes

tearing saplings from shallow soil

before they’ve had time to root.

Seems they cannot be stopped,

move under their own weight,

follow an entrenchment

like the blind following the blind

who cannot hear.


I know that the river floods.

Like the tears of a father

cannot be dammed,

will make no difference

when the flood is forgotten.


These answers I know – but today,

I don’t know the question;

I don’t know the question.


The Way Lost

by Dennis Herschbach


Weep for the children,

the ones huddled in cubbies,

their riddled young bodies

grotesque against songs

of Christmas to come.


Look at pictures of pain

seeping from classrooms,

forming streams that flow

freely down empty hallways,

washing over mothers and fathers.


Weep for the teachers,

symbols of love, shields

against an unstoppable tide,

those who will never again

care for a skinned knee,

a hurt feeling, a child.


Scream “ENOUGH!

No more … no more,”

until we all hear

cries of the innocent,

see their blood spilled,

feel loss for each parent.


Weep for a country

gone crazy with fear,

citizens seeking courage

from concealed death

hidden in pockets and belts.


Let your voice ring

like a bell meant to toll

a call to alarm,

make the land quake

for return of some reason

until sane thoughts prevail.


But I beg of you people,

weep for the children.



[/media-credit] Dennis Herschbach of Sartell felt compelled to write two poems to express his feelings about the school shootings in Connecticut.

Dennis Dalman

Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.
Dennis Dalman
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