It’s easy to want someone dead.
Take this guy who removed
the muffler from his Harley,
now tearing down the block
at 3 a.m., or the dickhead
flicking a lit cigarette from his car
to the sidewalk. Something tells
me the woman tossing chicken
bones under the bus seat, now licking
her fingers, is of no use to the world.
Doubtless if they were weeping
in confessionals over their small
though highly revealing offenses,
or scribbling apologies in journals,
I’d feel differently. And don’t get
me wrong: I’d rather not be the one
to gun down the Harley guy—
though there are excellent sight-lines
from my fire escape. I’d just
as soon he plunge quietly into
a tectonic gap in 7th Avenue,
volunteer for long experiments
in orbit, beta test those new
exploding cell phones.
I never feel this way towards kids
I teach in the detention center,
though when they’re older, fully
tattooed and towering over me
with hardened contempt, hollering
back to one another as they march
in gangs through the subway car—
yeah, maybe then I’ll want them
gone. They tell me they want to die
young, draw graffiti that translates
to leaving a good corpse. They brag
to one another about throwing
their dogs off the roof, and how
badly their stepfathers beat them.
When I was six my father’s father
shuffled to where I was playing
on the living room rug, took my
head in his hands and rammed it
into the coffee table. I later was told
he’d been down the hall trying
to take a nap and heard me laughing.
I was six and he flung my head
into a table. He’s dead now. What else
do you need to know about him?
from Your Whole Life