Returning the Favor

Don’t cry for the kid I was.
He was weak. An old man
had to teach that kid

his eyes wouldn’t be dried
by caring hands,
and his skin needed to be trained
to be harder than the fists that hit it.

I made my own lullabies
from the cracking of skulls,
the stomping of boots,
and cries for mercy.

I made lesser things
scream the pain I didn’t allow
myself to show, peaceful
until the next time anger howled

in my brain, demanding prey. 
(i can’t punch hard enough to save her)

Heaven gave me hell.
I’m just returning the favor. 






This poem was inspired by the prompt (I created!) over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: The Villain Speaks. I chose Turk, the Neo-Nazi character from Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The poem also borrowed inspiration from a line spoken by the villain from one of my favorite animes, Nakago from Fushigi Yuugi ( "I'll have my revenge against the heaven which has only given me hell"), who, when I thought about it, had a fair bit in common with Turk, both being hurt children who grew up to do terrible things as a way to deal with their pain. This poem is also linked up to Poets United Poetry Pantry 349

48 comments:

  1. It is good to register patience prior to anything else!

    http://imagery77.blogspot.my/2017/04/lesson-learnt-next-time-not-to-bother.html

    Hank

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  2. I'm not yet acquainted with either of these villains, but I don't have to be in order to 'get' and love the poem.

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  3. Fiction aside, I believe this is the case for many children who grow up to be criminals and sociopaths, too many years of abuse. Not that every abused child turns out that way.

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    1. Of course, not every abused child turns out to be like this. Many don't. But in the case of these particular villains, their childhood issues were portrayed as being a big reason behind their need to control and harm others.

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    1. This was a pretty rough one to write. When I was reading Small Great Things, I felt myself tense up every time I got to a chapter from Turk's POV. Pain aside, he's a very nasty bit of business.

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  5. Once, while participating in a discussion of Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z. Bryte, a student asked, "How can anyone grow up to be this disconnected, this mad, this inhuman?" I wish I had this poem then, for it answers all the questions... it reminds us that monsters are handmade (by humans).

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    1. I still haven't gotten around to reading that. I so plan too.

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  6. I don't know the folk mentioned either but there is a universal story at play here.

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  7. OH, those last lines. Just wonderful.

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  8. fan*tas*tic closing couplet. damn. which I had written this. ~

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    1. I'm glad it made such a strong impression.

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  9. I can see this. I could have been him, had I not met a great teacher.

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    1. I think it could easily have been several people I know, some who I care about very much. Thank goodness for the people who see the hurt and do their part to help heal it.

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  10. Great choice, Rommy. Chilling tale.

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  11. The cycle of abuse... wonderfully written ..that line in parentheses says a lot.

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    1. It does. And both characters push the recognition of the hurt held in that line as far away as they can by drowning themselves in hurting and hating others.

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  12. Ugh, this give me a wrench in my belly. I haven't read the Picoult book but can really see this person, understand this perpsective. Nakago!!!! My girl approves of this portrayal as well. :)

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    1. It is a good book, but not an easy read. I found myself getting most angry at the chapters from the perspective of Ruth, because holy hells, her POV was all too familiar.

      I had decided to take on Turk's character when I created this prompt, but when I first sat down to write the poem, I remembered that line of Nakago's and how much the two characters had in common. I purposely wrote it to fit both, and be true to their experiences.

      I'm glad your daughter approves. :)

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  13. Seriously powerful and disturbing!

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    1. Thanks Margaret. The characters referenced in the poem are quite disturbing people.

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  14. this is chilling...but also feel sad for those who never ever in their life would know the magic called Love and its effect...sigh...

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    1. One of the characters does have a far better end than the other (I won't give away which), and yes, love is the strongest healer.

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  15. So eloquently speaks for those who've "been given hell". Children are blank slates, upon which adults often write carelessly. Great write.

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    1. Thanks. This was a dark piece to create, but I'm glad I did.

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  16. My goodness those last lines are especially chilling! Beautifully penned, Rommy 💖

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    1. Thanks Sanaa. They are quite chilling.

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  17. I agree with Sanaa. Those last two lines are powerful ones. They show a strong sense of self, as well as a determination!

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    1. No one could accuse either character of lack of determination.

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  18. Yes, you have stated the truth of it. So many disturbed people can only assuage their pain and rage through violence to others. Their numbers seem to be increasing exponentially.

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  19. You captured the irrationality of revenge and violence. I like that you gave a post script about how you arrived at this. And it made me think about the fact that villains are so hurt, they cannot see beyond the idea of hurting others.

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    1. I definitely didn't want to minimize the harm they are capable of, but yes I wanted the understanding of hurt and the irrationality it can engender to be made clear.

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  20. In this season of hope and light. My hope is that more and more we choose love and kindness in our nurturing of future generations . Your poem is very well wrought

    Happy Easter

    Much love...

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    1. Kindness and love are good choices. May we understand the hurt we can cause before we cause it, and grow wiser in the process of discernment.

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  21. What a strong and incisive poem Rommy.

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    1. Thanks Robin. It was a departure from my usual.

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  22. I loved that novel! How she drew the characters through their voices, and how you do here with an economy that distills and reveals the pain and irony and pain. Masterful.

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    1. Thanks! That novel was tough to read at times. Picoult does such an amazing job with each voice. I was quite in awe of how skillfully she pulled it off.

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  23. Sometimes it is hard for a person to not become what was handed out when they were young. This is a powerful piece.

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    1. I agree. Thank goodness for the ones who see hurt and intervene early before the anger and resentment become a habit.

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  24. I was thinking Karate Kid! Haha. Very moving!

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    1. LOL, maybe more Cobra Kai than Daniel-san! Glad you enjoyed it.

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