The path to Gehenna

By Jack Bolton, Must the past stick to our soles like gum ?

We are the empty men, the ones

Who cannot even whisper together.

Theirs is the privilege of a better sex,

That behooves not the likes of us.

We commune in that comforting blackness

That holds us in its hands

And makes us gentle

 

The ranks of articulate indignation

Think not of us

Lest we be an embarrassment

To their perception of the world.

And those we meet

On streets and bars and hotels and in cars

Seem at times like just another race

They are not the problem

It shall always be so with them.

 

But we. We are the ones

With a barely conscious burden.

A thought, a memory, a mode of being

Still it clings

 

Blame is a difficult thing

Some register it as unnecessary and distracting

Others wish to dole it out freely, a generosity born of malice.

Some know just how to handle the matter,

But none of them know us.

 

In truth it’s not even their fault.

After all,

Who could help them?

Who wishes that pain

Be explored

That wounds

Be opened

That blood

Be spilt again?

We have seen enough

To colour our dreams. Please

Give us rest in waking.

 

We must suffer in silence

We can only suffer in silence.

Like a horse

Or slave

Or soldier

Their eyes weary with

Burden and disclosure.

 

But

Nobility is in the path

That leads to Gehenna

So why not tread the road?

Why not suffer in silence?

 

They told me that cold hands

Don’t leave a mark below the skin

Nor that sullen, sunken brows

Belong on pretty faces like mine.

But they are the old guard, made churlish

And boorish by a misplaced vigour

Which defied the onward climb of time.

 

Mine is a petition not so new

A request asked to those who would

Arm themselves for one cause

Yet shrug at any other.

 

Why for us do you clamp your jaws

And calm your tempers?

The guilt we would feel should voices

Raise in one almighty chant

The cry ‘No More’

Does not degrade the task.

The nobility of justice

Is no less denuded and scorned

For my crimes as for yours.

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