“The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand” by Roselyn Chen

Roselyn Chen (age 12)


you could say it was
the death that started
a great war
a life dropped
on a tipping scale
sending it crashing
until you could
barely see
the shards of brass
a life dropped
followed by millions more 
he was merely a student
when he pulled the trigger
making the move
that launched armies of soldiers 
filled the air with gas
that could drown you on dry land 
sent shipments of lives
to the underworld
you could say it was
the death that started it all
but the world was already
a pot of stew, a few bubbles
away from overflow
two ropes tied together
with threads, one tug
away from tear 
and when it breaks 
the ropes strain 
almost unwinding into threads
until they are only a shadow of themselves
yet they continue
tearing each other apart 
the great war, it was called
the war to end all wars
but it didn’t
though we all wish it had
          … right?

from 2023 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Roselyn Chen: “I like to write poetry because it’s one of the few forms of writing where there aren’t many rules. You can express yourself however you like, and be as precise or flexible as you want. I think it’s the freedom and the fact that I can do whatever I want that draws me towards poetry. Poetry is a river, and there are an infinite amount of lakes it can flow into.”

Rattle Logo