The Muck

Remember the first time
we were together?  I talked
a lot, an hour straight at least,
not to hear myself talk,
but because I hadn’t had
an audience like you in years
who seemed to want to listen.

I told you everything
about the killings, the trees,
the good strong knife,
the blood on my sleeve,
how I’d cried nonetheless and how friends
I still won’t name helped me
get away. 

I went deeper,
talked about how
I liked it as much as I hated it,
how it somehow felt like nothing at all,
how my night vision sharpened
as the first full spurt
splashed out. 

Then I went all the way in

and said that now, years later,
I didn’t feel any great remorse
but a warm satisfaction
at having survived
and at having learned early
what small fear death held
for me.

I felt safe so I told you everything,
said to you:

I am sharing this out of love,
out of a genuine sense of love,
I’m willing to let you
into the muck where I’ve lived.

When you were very still after I had spoken,

I assumed too much
and chose to believe that you understood now
the knife I always carried, how callous and open
I seemed at certain moments, how guarded
I was at others, and that your trembling
in my presence
was a sign of your fear for me,

but then I had the crisis moment —
saw how your shaking was precipitated
only by my words and your fear of them
coming together in friction —

I grew angry and said

I shared this out of love,
out of a genuine sense of love.
I have been willing to let you
into the muck where I’ve lived,
and this is how it falls out?

Then I flipped the knife open and said

I do this out of love, out of a genuine
sense of love, not for you but for myself,
and while you are not in danger now
I certainly am dangerous,
and I live dangerously,
and if you are to understand me at all
you should see me like this
and know me for what I am —
open, but not insane,
not by half,
considering the muck where I live.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

4 responses to “The Muck

  • Louise Robertson

    This is really good and creepy.

  • pearlnelson

    I’ve read this about five times and it gets scarier every time. The descriptive elements are great. The tension level goes stratospheric with:

    but then I had the crisis moment –
    saw how your shaking was precipitated
    only by my words and your fear of them
    coming together in friction –

    You write so well. I never find my mind wandering when I read your poems.

    Pearl

    • Tony Brown

      Thanks. I was thinking of how we expose ourselves in relationships, thinking we’re doing something good, something valuable for its willingness to show vulnerability, and how it sometimes backfires…not necessarily a current observation, I should add.

      And not based in the one to one personal relationship, either; it’s inspired by a situation going on around me, where people are enraged over some deep misunderstandings based in all sorts of long-standing issues.

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