As a child
My father beat me
Whippings with a heavy, black, leather belt
Bleeding welts on my thighs
I also learned from him
How a man treats the woman he professes to love
The woman he has promised to love, honor and protect
In sickness and in health
‘Til death do they part
Every Friday night
Just as the fifth of scotch he’d been nursing all evening
Was about halfway gone
He’d start an argument with my mother
Which always ended with him beating her up
I thought that this was the way families were
As I led my legally blind mother
To the optometrist every Monday after school
Her glasses having once again gotten themselves broken
As they flew across the room
Under the fierce blow of my father’s fist
Upon the side of my mother’s face
Wasn’t this what all husbands did?
The cops came regularly either to our apartment
Or that of our Irish neighbors next door
Or to the Italian family upstairs
It was a weekend ritual: call-the-cops-who-break-up-the-fight-husband-in-one-corner-wife-in-the-other “Everyone calm down! Be a good fella and stop beatin’ up your wife”
In-the-tragicomedy-of-family-life-behind-closed-doors in black-and-white-red-blue-and-bruised-all-over-angry-fearful-violent-Bullying-guilty-paranoid-bombing-nations-killing-women-and-children—collateral damage—destroying-governments-Murdering-legitimate-leaders-and-appointing-our-own-let’s-get-them-before-they-get-us-America
And then we naively ask:
Why do our young men pick up assault rifles?
And mow down a school full of children?
Why do athletes—our national heroes
Knife their wives to death?
Punch their girlfriends out in elevators?
Discipline a four year old with a “switch”
Leaving scars and bruises
On tender still-forming bodies and minds?
Are they perhaps…unconsciously…
Whipping the bodacious rebelliousness out of their young?
Breaking them in?
Making them more amenable to continuing to play
A subservient role in society?
Thus carrying on the work of the slave master
Generation after generation after generation
No need for us to fear
Isis or Isle
Or whoever the boogey-man-of-the-day-coming-to-get-us
For just like ol’ Khrushchev said
Back in the day when the Soviet Union was the boogey-man
We are the enemy
From the inside out