I knew a man who used to say,
“I’m not Machiavelli but…
there are days when the old guy
makes a lot of sense.”
I didn’t want to listen to him.
Maybe I should have paid him more mind
when he said things about ends
and means and how to play the game.
He’d say, “You don’t fight Evil from a distance.
You have to take it where it lives.
You have to go where Evil goes
to take it to the ground.
“Your face may set a little harder.
Your hands will not stay clean.
You will get dirty and it will show —
but dirty is cleaner than filthy.”
I should have listened harder.
I should have paid attention.
It would have made it easier
to look at my hands today.
Tomorrow, another run
to where the Evil lives.
Every day I care less
about the stain and stench.
You can’t do this from a distance.
Can’t do it with words alone.
Can’t do it without feeling
grime beneath the nails.
But someone has to do it
even if, after it’s done,
the ones you did it for
wring their hands about it.
Your face will set a little harder.
You won’t say much until you see
the one who needs to hear you say,
“I’m not Machiavelli, but…”