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Erasure poem taken from Muriel Rukseyer’s, “The Lynchings of Jesus.”

Glare upon blood

stabbed thighs split by wound.

Soul and body despair.

To return crucified, starved, burned,

hating their lives. Dismissed

with calm tributes.

Weak, desperate bone of our bone,

the ill scream blood, fire, and pride.

We look down.


They slope into a series of nights, black, enveloping,

blood swarming lips, bruised cheeks.

No escape.

Festering fallen men facing the world,

gibbering war.

We solemnly look the other way.


Shrieking anger, unspoken for,

this is the case of one man 

his lower limbs burned off 

before he became unconscious 


Don’t fail to see this

Heroes fall 

black, blood beating, vicious,

inviting death. The crazy are shunted off 

to forbidden corners, no reprieve,

no release.


Men wait beyond our vision.

Foreheads knotted, eyes wild, 

the twisted wrestle in the dark, 

spitting death and vengeance.

The dark secret.

One writes, “I think I shall kill myself.”

“I think I must hang myself.”


They drown in contradictions:

            Lead    Conform

The ones who returned crucified

            Shout to us


Ghost Image Series - Ward 54 - Ferrato.jpg

Ward 54 is a multi-media work originally shown at the 2009 Cities On The Side exhibition at the Durango Arts Center in Durango, Colorado. Integrating poetry and video from the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Ward 54 was created to raise awareness about the lack of long-term care and support many soldiers who return from combat need for trauma recovery and transition to civilian life. 


Now closed, Ward 54 was the inpatient psychiatric ward of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where the most traumatized soldiers were sent after being wounded in combat. Concerns about the treatment provided to severely wounded soldiers had been reported since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 


Ward 54 began as an erasure poem taken from Muriel Ruckeyser’s, “The Lynchings of Jesus.” Portions of text were burned from 7 consecutive pages, leaving behind the words that make up the poem, “Ward 54”. Graphic video images bleed from behind the erasure pages, asking us to rethink casualties of war that are often overlooked.

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