Sneer Boy

Three words —
BLACK LIVES MATTER —
printed on a banner,
painted on a street,

and you saw fit
to tear it up, light it up,
spill paint on it,
burn rubber on it.

I want to seize you, 
drag the sneer off your face,
and ask you to explain
which of those three words

hurt you the most, 
tore you up so much 
that you had to do 
what you did.

I suspect you
will be puzzled 
and unable to answer
whether it was the word

BLACK because it isn’t
about you, LIVES 
because, after all,
it’s not like your own

feels much like a life, 
or MATTER because,
of course, in your eyes
they don’t. Maybe you

can’t tell me which one word
but you can say
you are insulted or
disturbed to think of

someone daring to say
the phrase as if it was
a truth held to be self-
evident when it

isn’t and wasn’t ever
supposed to be and now
that it’s out there you might 
have to behave.  Whatever.

The point is,
they do — and now
that I have you here,
sneer boy, cocky lump

of plain dumb, 
big old red hatted 
cracked rung on the
evolutionary ladder —

now that I have you,
I’m going to turn you out
onto the places where you thought
you were safe from having

to consider your actions
and see how you fare
walking down the street,
wondering who hates you,

who might want more of you
than I took from you, who might turn
the other cheek if you act up
again, and who might not.

Welcome to a cracked door, 
buddy. Welcome to a door
slowly opening, welcome to learning
about all that’s been locked away

so that you could
sneer in comfort.
Welcome to the place
of your definitions,

where all the words
you can’t stand to hear
will either change you
or drown you out.

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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