Why Do You Curse Him?

Katie Joo
Katie Joo is a member of the Class of 2023.

Curse tablet, Rome, ca. 1st century BCE, Lead Alloy, 29 cm (L) x 11.4 cm (W), The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, 2011.01.

Poet’s Statement

My poem, “Why do you Curse Him?” was an ekphrastic poem in response to the curse tablets. From writing this poem, I tried to gain a different perspective on how I looked at the curse tablets and why someone would write something like this. In the poem, I ask questions about the horrible curse that is written on the curse tablet.

Why Do You Curse Him?

Why do you curse him?

What has he done so wrong

for you to wish such a horrible act on?

For his mouth, his tongue, his teeth to be removed

so he cannot say what hurts the most


Why do you curse him?

For him to not be able to say where his pain is

but also

for him to not even know



Why do you curse him?

For there are too many horrible acts to count

Would the gods

even want to do this for you?


Why do you curse him?

Why by a specific time?

For what goes on in March

that he must be tortured

by then


Why do you curse him?

For do you feel inferior?

How is it possible when

he is merely a slave