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It pushes down on my shoulders.
it bends my neck sideways,
pulls my ears,
squeezes my lips and cheeks out of shape
bends my skull and crosses my bleeding eyes.
Anger scrapes the skin off my cheekbone,
it tears at my eyebrow.

I want to scream.
I want to roar and curse and punch.
I want to swing a pickaxe handle.

Stop.
Just stop now.

The hate and bloodlust in me
is the same squalid, shitty malevolence
that has fueled massacres and genocides and lynchings
and slavery and bigotry and hubris and selfishness and hate
for thousands of years.

I am part of that hate.
This is not a metaphor.
I mean me, the guy writing this, is suffused in hate,
The "othering", the white privilege,
all the malicious,
selfish, rattlesnake noise that drowns compassion in a bucket,
throttling humility and kindness,
is rooted in me,
right down to the spine.

I have no claim to innocence,
I know it's wrong and I want it to stop.

I have chosen new enemies, but that was the easy part.
Now I have to treat my foes with decency and respect.

They may be utter shitheels,
but if I want to be like the good guys,
I have to act like the good guys.

If I struggle to extinguish my hate and rage
and act like one of the good guys.
I will, in that moment, be one of the good guys.

I can take the car keys away from the baboon in me,
make him stand up straight and put some pants on
and show him how to love and give.

I can stretch that decent moment into a minute, an hour, a week
and from there to forever,
just being one of the good guys.
I believe that I can do that.
I believe that you can too.

The man I was is gone,
the man I will be is yet to be
and open to reinvention.

I ask myself
"What am I becoming right now?"
I hope to find an answer we can all live with.

More ruleoflaw poems...

Originally posted to ruleoflaw on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, Rebel Songwriters, J Town, and Community Spotlight.

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