Thursday, November 1, 2018

To Not Be Cruel: A Poem

Written in 1989 and revised in 2000. Publishing today for the first time.


to not be cruel

one morning over eggs and bread
I looking upon the smooth winter cold
he standing at the stove, spatula in hand

I do not want to be a man, he said
I passed the salt and wondered
how could I not be cruel
when I have never really wanted
to be one either

I don’t know
the impotent pain
the mute frustration
of seeing so many torn souls
and isolated body parts
lying at my feet.

but how could I not be cruel
when I know she dances every night
dark and quivering in her booth
above the army surplus
the lit up mannequins displaying
parkas, bombers, and other
war paraphernalia

and how could I not be cruel
knowing so many others
who want more than diapers
baby food
and stolen clothes?

and how could I not be cruel
knowing myself
the searing sting of being ripped open dry
bled into and
left to die
by those who would blacken our eyes and
break our bones?

but I don’t know what it is
to be unwillingly among those who
blacken the eyes and break the bones.

I don’t know what it is
to be the blade
who wishes desperately to be
the challis.

so how
how can I not be cruel?

Katie Kadwell, written winter 1989, revised winter 2000.

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