Have I really, never? felt their rage

Have I really,
never felt alone
– isolated
among the very people
I’m almost certain I’m supposed
to feel a part of?

Have I really,
never failed to speak
a glaring truth
to appease a pack
whose membership
requires submission
to clan-think
threatening silence
– segregation
for daring to use
a voice
I’ve far too often
failed to use?

Have I really,
never felt emasculated
demoralized
dehumanized
by the din of a silently-sanctioned
no tales out of the testosterone-fueled
school of the bullies will be bullies club
only to find myself
– complicit
in its jeering assaults
each time I turn a blind eye
to its oppressive imposition
of fear mongering and intolerance
in exchange for hypnotizing
promises of safety
status and financial reward?

Like when the recent law school
graduate who’s jumped through
every convoluted hoop
was left to discover
her new position involved a
service far too unseemly to
discuss in polite circles?

Like when the Speedo-clad
Jewish man, lounging peacefully
in the sun, on an inner-city beach
when suddenly,
he found himself being beaten
and disabused of an eye for
“appearing gay” and wearing
the wrong kind of cap?

Like when generations
of innocent children
were abused by religious captors
in a grand & mighty church?

Like when a young black NFL
quarterback found himself isolated
from the league for his unpopular
political opinions?

Like when a courageous
middle-aged mother lunged
at her terrorized gay son’s
tormentors only to find
her naked neck impaled
on the glistening cold steel
tip of a restaurant kitchen
carving knife?

Like when a hulking
anxiety-ridden NHL player
found himself haunted
by nightmares of long-gone
days of humiliation
by his non-Latino peers?

Like when a soul-tortured veteran
finds herself torn by loyalty to
his training and the need
to purge her memory of the
atrocities of war?

Like when a gang of inner-city
teenage boys hopped on a bus
to go “fag bashing”
– as if it were just another team
sport to distract themselves from
the boredom of a monotonous humid
summer afternoon?

Like when the people on the
periphery, invisible
as they may seem, the homeless
transgendered
the handicapped or obese
those
– so addicted
to a drink, a cookie
a line, a needle
that she finds herself
shunned by a world
who says it loves him
but then absconds
with her dignity
when he has a slip?

Have I really,
never been stoned by insults
spat on, threatened
beaten, arrested
for being
in the “wrong” kind of bar
in the “wrong” part of town
at the perfectly
“wrong” moment in history?

Have I really,
never turned my head
as a spirited, little butch
girl or a chubby, effeminate
school boy is pummeled
mercilessly by taunting
bullied,
threatened, battered
for simply
being
the most authentic version of
himself
that she knows how to be?

How can I watch these things
and pretend
I have really,
never felt their rage?

That I have really,
never secretly sought
to settle these insults
with silent fantasies
of sweet, but holllow
revenge?

That I have really,
never secretly felt the fear
that in one bone-chilling
icy moment
– for no good reason
it will be mine
whose soul they’ll seek
to lynch?

The innocent
– abandoned
bullied, battered
& left to fend

defenselessly

On the ostracizing
outside
longingly looking in..