• Tealight Press

Arondeus by Joseph Marsh


Dedicated to Willem Arondeus (1894-1943): artist, author, resistance fighter, and openly gay


On July First Nineteen-Forty-Three,

I wonder if your eyes turned skyward

as the Nazi soldiers aimed their guns,

did your last written words

run through your mind?

The final masterpiece of a warrior-writer,

“Homosexuals are not cowards.”

“What stake do you have in the plight of the Jews?”

Your lover asked in plea,

afraid to see the man he loved

beaten beneath fascist boots.

Knowing that you could not stand by

as innocent people died,

you carried on:

“Homosexuals are not cowards.”

With your skills as a writer

you wove words of life,

forging papers for Jewish families,

awarding them a meagre chance of safety.

But then the Nazis caught on

and the papers that had been made to give life

identified those who would die.

“Homosexuals are not Cowards.”

Your fight did not end then;

there was a further step to take.

You and your allies stole into the bastion

of German oppression, setting ablaze

the records of the Dutch population.

As you watched the office burn

did you have any idea that you would soon follow?

“Homosexuals are not cowards.”

Sold out by a Judas in your disciples twelve,

you were arrested and sentenced to die.

with a firing squad’s post as your cross

and a blindfold as your crown of thorns,

you defiantly proclaimed yourself!

You let your sexuality be known

to serve as an example to the world.

So henceforth, “let it be known,

Homosexuals are not cowards.”


Upturned bird shaped scars

Taut yellowed skin

An ache that assures.

I squeeze your hand

My meagre strength to yours

I run my hand across your bloody chest.

Joseph Marsh is an emerging writer who studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. He's been published in Stone of Madness Press, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Honey Magazine and many more publications. He's a Senior Fiction Editor for the literary journal The Lincoln Review.

Twitter: @josephmarsh5

Instagram: josephmarsh1999


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