I grew up knowing what cruelty was
it curled at the corners of day like
a well fed tiger.
Sometimes I did not think on it much
for I was preoccupied by my own
sense of emptiness and self pity or
just the song on the radio at that moment.
Years later I feel it
just beneath the surface like
new skin, flinty and unyielding, unfamiliar
and somehow horrifying
bleeding like a bruise
as yet unseen.
Maybe the brittle disappointment of
my ancestors, their sagas of
grief, shifting quiet loss, building
like ant hills awaiting flesh to
pierce with poison is my
There is shame in realizing
I am guilty of what I abhorred, this
softening violence, a compound fracture in
my psyche, alarming long held belief
I was kind
when there is no nice affability in
what I sometimes feel
only a wish to burn
deeply, leave charred and dead
those who would harm me or try
to fight, thinking me defenseless.
In that, I inherit the family tradition
of haters, long held like tarnished
shield, we have only endured by
cutting down those who would harm us
we are warriors without goodness
we fight sometimes because we like
the taste of spilt blood on our sorrowful lips
it is a necessary thing, I realize, that I am the last.
So when you tell me I am kind and good
do not use those platitudes so keenly
nor trust entirely, my motivation
I am every bit as wild as that feral
hungry, you bring in from the cold
who scratches you deeply, first
time you mistakenly take her purr
for pleasured trust
know no such.