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Thursday, August 08, 2019


by David Spicer

“*trigger warning* Rabid Trump supporter” by alex674 at Deviant Art.

I never learned to love
a butterfly’s wings, the ripple of wavy hair.
My old man numbed me with buckles of belts,
along with barbed-wire insults and blame
he loved to wrap around my sensitive head.
He watched with glee when I winced and cried,

a weak kid. As an adolescent I didn’t cry
but with those lack of tears I couldn’t love
myself anymore than a turtle that swallows its head.
I began my journey of odium by growing long hair:
I felt kinship with hippies who blamed
society for their alienated rage and dodged belts

from fathers, who thought nothing of belts
of Jimmy Beam and Johnny Black before they cried
and always found their sons to blame
for being losers in life and love.
Ten years later, I buzz cut my hair,
joined a gang of skinheads

who grunged guitars and cracked heads.
This didn’t happen in Frisco, but the Cotton Belt,
where haters despised long hair and short hair,
but I loathed rednecks— they never cried,
didn’t know the meaning of love
since they never accepted self-blame.

As children, their mothers told them, You’re to blame—
I ought to bash your stupid head
in. Fifteen years later, I still didn’t know love,
so I joined right-wing crackpots who swung belts
at smaller victims, young men we kicked until they cried,
slashing their faces with swastikas, hacking their hair.

Twenty years later, I wonder what happened to my hair.
If I could, I’d find some cretin to cut with blame.
I’d feel better if the whiner whimpered and cried.
Then I’d notch it up and grind his head,
tie up his arms with rusty chains, poison-laced belts,
and after I finished him, I’d call his death my act of love.

I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody: long hair, bald head.
Who cares, as long as I can blame and whip with a belt?
I can’t cry. I hate myself. I think I’ll buy a gun to love. 

David Spicer has published poems in Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Oddball Magazine, The Literary Nest,The Tipton Poetry Journal, Synaeresis, Chiron Review, PloughsharesThe American Poetry Review, and elsewhereand in the anthologies Silent Voices: Recent American Poems on Nature (Ally Press), Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing From Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois University Press), Homeworks: A Book of Tennessee Writers (The University of Tennessee Press), and A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press). He has been nominated for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart once, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press), and six chapbooks, the latest of which is Tribe of Two (Seven CirclePress). He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.