Earthbound Vertigo

Perched upon the precipice
On the edge of your logic void
Life beating minutes
Ceremoniously destroyed

Strings pulled in the shadows
Means to an end unsure
Psychological muscle flexed
Uncertainty de jour

Balanced now in silence
After the safety click
Such irony in that name
Cruel designer's trick

Players in this ghastly plot
Forced to share a role
History will remember
Our feebly termed control

Splinters in our ears
Of noise distant and abrupt
Sweet lucidity in a second
As reality becomes corrupt

This faint no feint
Convulsed here on the floor
Camera eyes capturing
My little local war

Pierced and fallen still
Those perpetrators lie
Defined by their resolve
So who the hell am I?

This poem was written in reaction to the resolution of the Moscow Theatre Siege of October 2002, the events of which are summarised below.

October 23 - Terrorists storm a theatre in Moscow and hold the audience and cast hostage. There are reports that the group, calling itself a suicide squad (or smertniki) has packed explosives into the building and will kill themselves and their captives if Russian forces do not withdraw from Chechnya.

October 24 - Five hostages are released but rescue workers wheel out a stretcher carrying the blanket covered body of a woman shot and killed by the captors, the Russian public's first brief view of a victim of the violence. A black-clad male hostage-taker says "Each one of us is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of God and the independence of Chechnya."

October 25 - 3.55am : A security official says the terrorists have agreed to free all the foreigners among the hostages, but subsequent negotiations break down and the release agreement is not fulfilled.

4pm : Russia's federal security service head, Nikolai Patrushev, says the hostage-takers' lives will be guaranteed if they let the captives go; the Kremlin's only public offer to the group.

5.25pm : The Chechen group declares it will begin killing hostages before dawn, says a spokeswoman for the musical who has spoken to an actor held hostage.

October 26 - 5.15am : The captors kill two hostages and wound two others. Russian officials make a final attempt at talks with the terrorists, but the negotiations break down quickly. Gas is released into the building and Russian special forces move in. Fifty captors are killed, some 750 hostages are freed and 90 hostages are reported dead.

October 27 - The death toll among the hostages rises to 118. Moscow's chief doctor, Andrei Seltsovsky, says all but two were killed by the gas but Russian military authorities refuse to reveal its composition.

October 28 - Russia has a national day of mourning for the crisis's civilian dead. The Russian Premier Vladimir Putin says Russia will never make deals with terrorists.

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