the price of a voice (for Malala)

when a child speaks
what makes her words
so dangerous
you would gag her
with lead?

what code of honor
that is spoken or written
exists for women
or their children
in this place
where girls are burned
by acid
for going to school;
where learning
is criminal,
where book bags are hidden
like contraband,
a dangerous heroin
of minds flowering
into thought

yes, Malala was taught
& Malala wrote
of beatings & bodies
hung along the streets;
the bitter fruit
of the swat valley
an angry truth
pressed into wine
poured out into ether
instead of staining earth

but to speak
for the voiceless
& against the machine
that crushes them
leads to more
than balance
& peace prizes

targeted & hit, Malala
pays with blood
but not necessarily
her life, a 14-year-old girl
such a frail enemy
drugged & swollen to silence

i pray she lives
& that that spirit
pacing & caged
too large for her child’s mind
was not cut away
with the bullet they took
from her brain

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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20 Responses to the price of a voice (for Malala)

  1. ruleofstupid says:

    It’s things such as this which threaten to break the fragile hope I try and hold that we are redeemable. This poem is a magnificent tribute to the tragedy.

    • Thank you, ROS. I am so tired of writing these, but I can’t stop. The injustice of it stuns and saddens.

      • ruleofstupid says:

        I know what you mean. I want to write more poetry of celebration, but I see hurt everywhere and react…
        It reminds me of a talk I had with my Buddhist chap. It’s all very well knowing this [Buddhist thought], but how can we live it out there?! How do you live sanely in a mad world?
        You can only try, he said.

        • Susan L Daniels says:

          I think, perhaps, part of that trying is naming brutality and insanity for what they are, and somehow not being dragged into the very things we despise.

  2. nelle says:


    You expressed how I feel.

  3. Trent Lewin says:

    The pigs hide behind honour and tradition and custom and ritual, as though that makes them anything less than evil. They are filth who would do things like this, and to children no less. These are the things that make the world truly dark.

  4. boomiebol says:

    What else can be said?

  5. very very sad! the crimes that are committed in the name of culture!

  6. jomul7 says:

    I think those who aimed and shot compartmentalized their actions thinking that it’s not their child and if they are willing to do to one’s else child, I wonder what they do to their own children. It’s one thing to consider another man as a threat, but to shoot at a child as you shoot to eliminate a threat, that’s a level of barbarism unheard of.
    Not do I hope for her recovery, but I hope whoever decided to shoot be made an example of what not to do.

  7. A wonderful tribute, Susan. The poor child. My prayers are with her.

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