Six Seconds

One hundred days, one million people:

ten thousand deaths per day. The killers consider it a job:

“Gukora akazi,” * they say to each other;

“Kujya ku kazi,” ** to their wives.


They work by day, sleep at night.

The job requires speed,

so they press on.


Ten thousand a day,

fifteen-hour days—

that’s 666 per hour:

the mark of the beast.

Round down. 


Six hundred per hour,

ten per minute,


six seconds


to chop a limb,slice an artery,

start the graveward journey with rape,


to pile stones on the living,

force a husband to kill a wife,

or a woman her child,


to pour gasoline, strike the match.

Breathe in, breathe out—one is dead.

Breathe in, breathe out—another. 


Every six seconds

for one hundred interminable



                                                           Apol, L. (2014). Language lessons: Poems from Rwanda.                                                           Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 10, 1, 1-17.


 * Gukora akazi: Do the work.

** Kujya ku kazi: Going to work.

  • Thanks to Laura Apol.