Poem: Taught Too Well

Taught Too Well

The trouble is, it took.
I believed it.
All that stuff I was taught as a child
in school, in church.
For all my missteps and stumbles,
I still believed it.

That people mattered.
All of them.
People mattered.
Color didn’t.
The size of your wallet didn’t.
Your sex didn’t.
Your sexuality didn’t.
People mattered.
All of them.
We are our brother’s keeper.
We are.
And I believed them.
It appears my mother and her ilk
did too good a job on me.
It seeped into my pores,
into my heart, even deeper
and I became inflexible,
too sure perhaps that love included care.
It include respect. Kindness.
All those foreign things, ancient history things,
abandoned things
with only a few relics like me still standing.

But we do still stand.
Our mere presence in the town square
a stone cut reminder.

The problem is I believed
the politicians of my time.
That people mattered, all of them,
and even if our service to them was flawed,
well, so were we, and we kept trying,
rethinking, tinkering, striving,
never perfect, but each attempt built on the premise
that, well…. I guess I repeat myself.
I do that often.
People mattered. All of them.

The ugly. The broken. The traumatized.
The quirky and sad. The unhealthy
of body and soul.
People mattered, all of them,
that we were this glorious mongrel nation
because of our differences,
not in spite of them.

I am not sure whether to thank or curse
the teachers and preachers of my youth
but I cannot deny their effectiveness.

About this poem

My mother would like this poem, I think. She was one of my great teachers. And too, my grandfather. Those of you who knew her or him will know what I mean.

The way I feel today in this age where anger, disrespect, loudness, ugliness seem to be OK. More than OK, the order of the day.

I still don’t think so. I never will.


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