About Them

Who are they,
the ones you call “them?”
It’s hard to explain, other than

they decide, not you — unless
you find yourself on the side
of consensus. 

Some jump back and forth,
into and out of it. Some join
and never look back,

some are born there, some
look up one day and find
somehow they have become “them.”

How immense they are
depends on how small you feel
yourself to be.

If there is a
visible horizon before you,
they are the vanishing point.

Your descriptions of them
have a plasticity of form,
though rarely of intent.

Their mouths
are bound over
to the service of ghosts.

In their hair the ashes 
of torches, pyres, stakes
in piles of pitch-soaked wood.

They may choose to soothe
if you agree, snip and snide
if you are mildly out of line,

rap knuckles and slap down
if you are more recalcitrant,
beat and slay if they see the need,

or so they want you
to believe. They are
avatars of what

you are supposed
to believe and the forms
must be preserved

or else there’s nothing
to be preserved and
things fall apart and

even if that is something
to be desired
it does not happen

without pain and
the circle remains
unbroken as long as 

they hold you close;
as long as you let them
hold you. 

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

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