you love to say these things make you angry.
anger is free. shake any body and it falls out
of their ears in ash and sharp stones. you feel
i haven’t stumbled onto more anger than i can grip
in two fists, in the bridge between them, across
their straining forearms trapped against my chest?
anger is water. anger is the flesh and the juice
hiding in the fruit of the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil, anger is what we do when we see we can’t
get good, anger is what we spit out when the sun rattles
against our evil, you feel i haven’t seen good girls
and tired fathers press wine out of that shit by just
chewing slowly on it and letting it slide out into
a bowl for everyone to take a sip in remembrance of
somebody house or somebody boy-child or somebody
gone too soon or somebody here but as if they were
always gone? all o’ we have something we wish
we could take a claw out the back pocket for.
take this: you see something in the news, you see
something in the magazine you open at the dentist’s,
you see something on the front page but you don’t spend
the three dollars to see all of it because you say you’ve seen
enough. what do we plan to do about it?
like we not man enough, mad enough, made of sturdy stuff
to change it. i am here to tell you:
anger is free. you’ve been rubbing up against the tide
all the time. maybe you hadn’t seen.
none of the news is new. the bullhorns are simply shinier.
what you see is revelation, in both senses of the word.
i am here with sharp pieces on me to strip whatever
you were thinking about when you came out the maxi.
i am here to pour water, juice, wine, flambeau fire, whatever.
i am the sound of you ignoring the sound.
i am the sound of you saying you thought it was something else.
i am the sound of you saying why you go fib on
somebody who just trying to make sure you could live the kind of
life I didn’t ever know?, I am the sound of expensive things
breaking only for you to learn you never owned such a thing,
I am the uncounted step of the staircase, the tree branch you
the other day, the cupboard door that grew wider from the hinge
I am drunkenness from flambeau. my skin is covered in
tufts of i don’t know. i walked here from the space
between i wish something would change and i don’t know
why he would say something like that. and lemme tell you,
i thought this procession would be terrible, but
you only turned the corner once and here we were.
i am dragging the evidence to your front gate
in a coffin only you can see, i have it chained
to me so it can’t ever get away from the sun. there is a
pomerac tree growing from your daughter’s pillowcase,
and i am the thing that snaps at anyone who tries
to pick from it. even you, who wishes the fruit
would talk to you for once. i am the missed phone call
from the principal, a thick loom of crimson wool
unspooling deep within the static. i am your neighbour
in the street with she rollers in she hair still, suddenly
your son’s name, and i know your son’s name, i know
your daughter’s name, i growl them into the dirt like seedlings
whenever someone uses the words failed them in a sentence,
i traded my own name for them all, i traded the name of some
boy whose classmates say but ent life sweet? when he wants
to say he wishes this woman he don’t know would stop smiling
at him. i don’t get to be remembered, so i don’t get to be
buried, so I don’t get to die. so you don’t get to forget.
there is a rotting mango tree growing from a bracelet
your best friend forgot was lingering beneath their schoolbag.
i bury screams beneath the roots. i hear the night
chirp out who you were supposed to love the whole time.
The sound of their names, of the word relative, of the word
pastor, of the word authority, bitter in your mouth like
you made your tongue a patient cask. i am the sound of
that’s not what they said clattering to the floor. i am the
sound of it
scraping back up the walls and making decisions. there is a
tree growing from the part of his mouth he tears at when you say
that if she hit you then you must-be look to get hit. i tear
the seeds, pull out gold locket chains and old letters with the
smudged. you see it and insist that you will never let that
but when you’re asked, where are your claws?, you wipe your
of every notion. these are your claws. I am here to keep your
clean. all you have to do is admit it and keep still.
© 2020 Brandon O'Brien