An Explanation

This one-note-struck
of all my recent talk
about my rage and sorrow
at how humans suborn
all the machinations of Evil
and take each other for pawns
to be moved at will
in games huge and tiny
can be grating, I know.
It grates on me as well.
I wake up raw most days
and on the other days it’s not long
before I am drawn to picking at
the new scabs and nearly-healed scars
of my previous wounds.  
I have them always on my mind.
I feel them festering and itching on my skin.
I taste them, dark and sour, in my mouth.

You don’t know how much I would prefer
to speak only of my garden 
filled with midsummer close-to-ripeness,
or of hours of simplicity watching my cat,
or of the peace in lying with my love
long hours in a just-enough-room bed.
I speak of these things often in my head;
I feel them often in my skin;
I long for them to be all that’s in my mouth.

But all that daily joy
quickly fails and swiftly pales 
when I move from acknowledging it
in the moment I feel it to using it
to hide from what looms Beyond.
I have a voice, not for me,
but for others. I was not born
to talk to myself. It falls to me
to speak, even if it is poor speech,
even if it is faltering, even when it’s
Wrong —  a bad tack taken
in a run toward Right — how will I know
unless I take it and hear it and choose
the correction?  So I speak and speak
on all that roiling cloud of Evil out there,
over the hill, coming toward me,
toward us all. I speak of those 
it has already taken, of those 
fighting not to be swallowed.
I speak of it always in my head.
I feel it raising the hair on my skin.
I long to one day put its taste out of my mouth.

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

6 responses to “An Explanation

  • Eileen

    Reblogged this on Laughter: Carbonated Grace and commented:
    This is from a blog called Dark Matter written by a Vietnam Veteran
    with a prophetic voice that calls us to respond in at least some small way to the evil we prefer to ignore in our world.

    • Tony Brown

      Thanks for the recognition. I appreciate it. One thing, though: I’m not a Vietnam vet. Not a vet in any way shape or form. My dad is a Korean vet, ex-POW, career military; knowing that experience, I’d never take on a title I didn’t earn the way a war veteran has.

  • Eileen

    Need to say, your poem is powerful and clear and understandable. I have a speaker coming to take my place talking to a retired teachers’ group this week. He has written a book about his native Haiti and the earthquake that turned it into rubble. Once more I find my ignorance of our own history of mistreatment of a small country deplorable and the up close and personal stories of the poverty before the earthquake and now the devastation overwhelming. I greatly value your using your talent to help us become aware and hopefully responsive in some fruitful way to the evil we try not to see.
    Thank you for your willingness to live with the painful awareness of so much that many do not face, so that you can call us to repentance and warn the young of our capacity for evil.

  • Eileen

    One of my sons was back for a few days from teaching orphans born HIV positive in Cambodia. His fifth graders know nothing of their own history or of past encounters with the United States. He told me that when teaching about the bombings, he took them on a hike just a little ways past the orphanage compound to see a large crater in the ground. They couldn’t imagine what caused it and were shocked to learn it was from an American bomb. He says that Pot Pol was so successful at wiping out the educated and literate, that now no one knows how to spell things correctly in Cambodian. Hard to wrap my head around that. He does also say that American NGO’s are doing amazing work there and the Clinton Foundation is furnishing medicines and clinics and education that is halting the devastation of AIDs, while the Chinese are buying up the land in the cities and building skyscrapers for their corporate offices.
    There’s a website for where he volunteers. New Hope for Cambodian The knowledge of what many of the orphans have suffered, the horrible history of Cambodia alongside the small, but significant, heroism of the volunteers from all over the world and the amazing changes for the children seems to me like a crucible of evil and good that exists in each of us and all we can do is try to minimize the fallout from our evil on others and overcome it as much as we can with our good, however small it may be.

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