He had fled
as a child from the world of flood, a refugee unwelcome in his pack
who had felt afraid from the first; to find another place of faction
in which the weakest could show strength, where features concealed his fear…
His hands bled:
not minding strings of razor wire, he clambered on our fences,
he beat a bloody pulp against the bureau’s battle tank of process
but brushed aside the complex holograms besetting our enrichment
He would change.
Disliking men on task, on principle, he found enough belief
to claim control, to assert agency; but let his vision shrink into true faith
as roots turned in towards the cautious tearing agony of shifting shapes…
He was new:
on the right, his beard grew fierce and strong, in which he could rejoice
beneath a hooded eye, though his left profile was smooth and fair
like the face of a teen who had been young, without enjoyment.
The solace of anger loiters
invitingly – my whore – a fire
to which I’ll give myself
to be consumed and sintered among ash.
I am not a subtle man but prone;
and prey to louder voices
than my feeble, flabby, flubbing tongue
can manage or control.
Panic …. is just an inch away
its corruption spreading by contagion,
a chill within the morning mist
they (we) all must breathe, rising from the delta
When it comes:
It dilates pupils, narrows sight,
dries mouths, drains skins and blood-soaks cores
as it flushes through capillaries and flesh,
its rush feeds on mistrust, fuelling more unease
in and of each life in breaths of fear / thriving
in a fertile climate founded on their (our) past
Infecting people one by one
or sweeping regiments away
ruling of and by and for those people
who’ve found their (our) almost-abandoned
most-dearly-held and all-too-human values
wrenched and broken loose
Of their (our) flesh somehow carved
and taken freely without drawing blood;
Of the uprooted left behind / or blamed
by those whose role it was / to care for them.
Who knows what is right or wrong?
Or which side “we” are on?
Perception is reality. Indeed??!
Who will see beyond
a brusque because tenuous masculinity
or tentatively passing femininity,
contorted to conform,
to fit compounded lives into a frame,
a work of rules for living in?
Such progress made, but so much remains undone.
We are still adrift from harmony, still
straitened by striving for stability and
trying tirelessly to earn an inch of traction,
leaving little room to dream of leverage
for the last and bravest stepping out
from an airless past towards equality.
Martin Niemöller spoke so well.
Now will we speak? Or who speaks for us,
surrounded by our complex fear?
Are we frightened of our fears?
Or of ourselves, our difference?
Or stark disclosure? Of uncertainty,
Of not knowing home, of nowhere to belong?
Or of a nameless other? In irony.
Must we be forever wary, full of cortisol
and mindfulness of risk? Tholing and brave-facing
covert discrimination, overt abuse,
irrational ignorance, banal and fundamental;
even begging No, No No, No against the blade
slid blindly in the thigh or in the guts,
by the station, walking home at 5am?