Tag Archives: aggression



The earnest monastery scribe begins
to scrape: he must expunge, obliterate
a text of Archimedes. Tonsured pate
bowed over parched and pumiced skins,
stone bench stone-cold, to his chagrin
hemorrhoids, indigestion complicate
his task. But laborare et orare, so he meditates;
offers up his troubles in atonement for his sins.

Beyond clerestory walls descendant sheep
are growing new skins in a lilac breeze.
Fra Pennafolio envies how they graze
oblivious, while lately he’s been losing sleep
fighting dark avengers of Hippocrates.
For help, he rubs his cabuchon of chrysoprase.

He must not let it faze him.
After all, in frugal fact, parchment is dear
and perfect skins are rare. He must persevere,
erase and rewrite without fear.
It is a holy labor, surely in the angels’ care,
to cleanse away the pagans for a book of prayer.




Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me.”

—A Maxim for Children

Poor Charlie felt he had the right
to be as hateful as he might;
that’s freedom of expression.
He travelled with the savvy smart,
was good with words and graphic art;
they polished his aggression.

It’s not as if he didn’t know
his wit dished out a hurtful blow,
such was his intention.
He called it satire, an old trick
of literary rhetoric
to mask his condescension.

“Watch your mouth,” his father said,
but Charlie self-expressed instead;
wise warnings were ignored.
His righteousness, he came to think,
with drafting pen and colored ink
more potent than a sword.

Those on the receiving end
of Charlie’s penchant to offend
stewed in this juice.
A self-expression more inclined
toward the body than the mind
let loose.

The awful consequences came
in retribution with a claim
on Charlie’s head.
Aggression had begotten more
aggression, evening the score.
Now Charlie’s dead.

“Sticks and stones
may break my bones,”
still rings the schoolyard cry,
“but words will never hurt…”
we also still assert,
and that… is just a lie.




She means to read to me.
Her gaze is overbright, trained on visions
floating high behind my head
where only she can see.

I wince toward her smile.  Surely she
can tell how much I wish she’d go away.

But no.  She stays, ringing at my stoop,
her other finger in THE BOOK
ready to teach isms to my glowering look,
my bathrobe, my stockinged feet.

My dog will not stop barking
but Evangel doesn’t mind.

Now her finger finds Isaiah’s
Armageddon on the page,
an index plump and pink.
I nod but nothing sinks

unless its to the floor.
I wonder why I stand not standing for
what I believe about this
credo-peddling door to door.

How clean her fingernail, I think.