Three poems

(The following three poems were written by former Temple member Teri Buford O’Shea in the years since the deaths in Jonestown. Her complete collection of poems for the jonestown report may be found here.)




            He roars

I shake

            Like an old washer

                        In the spin cycle

My knees

            Turn to rubber

                        I collapse

I am afraid

            To die

                        I am

                             A coward

My best friend

            Betrays me

                        I have abandoned

                                    The Revolution

The Revolution

            That creates




                                                            Sleep deprivation

The Revolution

            That steals

                        My freedom


                                         My child

                                                Never to be born

The Revolution

            That estranges me

                        From those I love and hold dear

                                    That makes my best friend

                                                My most feared enemy

I am afraid

            To die

                        I am

                           A coward

The truth

            Would get me

                        Killed or worse

My comrades


     Against me

            for His bemusement

                        I wonder

Who among them

            Secretly wants

                        To leave

I will never


                        The party line

                                    The party line

                                                The party lie


    Buried somewhere

            In the jungle floor

                        Far from

                                    My cowardly


How much

            Can it hurt?

                        To tell the truth

Oh! God!

            Deliver me from this body


                            Searing pain

            Deliver me from this spirit

                        I clench my teeth

                              So as not to



But I am brave

            I do not tell

                        The truth

            I give

                        The party lie

What a coward

            I am

     What a liar

                        I have become

Why can’t

            I speak

                        The truth

                                    And LIVE




Bitter Jungle

Death cries from the bitter jungle

            blaming you for our

                        fear, pain ,horror, our collective cowardice

Believers we were

            trapped in your hypnotic thoughts

                        to live and die at your discretion

Afraid to rise up against you

            afraid that your magic would destroy us

                        not recognizing the power we held among us

We distrusted

 each other

                        too much to save ourselves

I did not fight

            I was not brave

                        I did not care, if another day would come

You were not God

            not Buddha

                        not Gandhi come back to life again

Cries in the jungle night

            Betray you now as they could not before

                        And join together against you.

We are believers no more.



After the end of the world

After the end of the world

I drank milk, only milk

First in tiny sips

Then in large gulps

But it was only milk I had

After the end of the world

After the end of the world

I put the pieces of shattered glass


And watched the sun rise

In its mosaic of reflections

Blue, rose, lavender

I heard the past talk

In silence

After the end of the world

I drove fast to nowhere

And nowhere

Became my home

After the end of the world

I can watch the new sun set

From my own screened porch

At the beginning of the world