remembering Matthew Shepard

Anger is easy.
Easy to cul­ti­vate,
and eas­i­er to feed.
It requires lit­tle thought
and less rea­son.
Just a tar­get –
a focus for its wrath.


Your anger begs for sat­is­fac­tion,
done with dirty fists and vicious hands.
Swift kicks to bring it plea­sure.
Blows about the face and chest.

These are the ones to bring delight.
They make your best state­ments -
last­ing longer, and being hard­er to dis­guise.

Beat and run, that’s the game.
Make a break.
And keep run­ning.
Keep run­ning until the only things left
that still remind you of the deed
are the red rags you tossed into the trunk
along with your old base­ball bat.

Keep run­ning.
Keep run­ning and nev­er look back.
Because back there
is where the hurt is.
Where the beat­ings first began.
Back there is a drunk who passed for pap­pa.
And a child with bro­ken dreams.

Keep run­ning and nev­er look back.
Because look­ing back is hard.
Hard to do and hard to see.
Bet­ter to keep run­ning, and look­ing straight ahead.
Bet­ter to be angry.
Because anger is easy.
So much eas­i­er than pain.

Anger is easy.
Easy to cul­ti­vate,
and eas­i­er to feed.
It requires lit­tle thought
and less rea­son.
Just a tar­get –
a focus for its wrath.

And God knows
there are plen­ty of tar­gets around.
Boys for plea­sure, boys for pain.
Boys just wait­ing.
Easy boys.
Easy tar­gets.
Blue-faced boys.
Need­ing to be blood­ied
because of who they are –
what they are.
Vic­tims because they got in your way.
Beat­en for anger’s sake.

Beat them fast.
Because fast expres­sions of anger
are the best kind.
They make the point
and get the job done
in one quick and easy les­son.

Quick and cru­el.

Made to hurt; made to last.
Made to get even for beat­ings of your own.
For fail­ing grades and hand-me-downs.
For all the mem­o­ries learned the hard way.
You know.
The ones that came in the form of a stick
or a wide hand across your cheek.

So now you got all those boys.
Those sad blue-faced boys.
Boys meant to make up for every­thing you lost.
Meant for beat­ing.
Meant for bash­ing.
Meant for anger at its best.

And you know what?
The best part is that nobody real­ly cares.
Because all those blue-faced boys are lone­ly.
Worse than you, they got no friends.
No friends and lots of ene­mies
to turn the oth­er way.
Lots of ene­mies to say it serves ‘em right.
Serves ‘em right, they say.
And what were they doing out there any­way?
Out there where the likes of you could find them.

Look out for anger.
Watch out when it finds its mark.
Because anger needs action.
Action to express itself.
To over­come pain and humil­i­a­tion.
Anger needs action. Action and a tar­get.

Your anger cries out for sat­is­fac­tion.

But who will be your next blue-faced boys?
Who will be your tar­gets?
Who will be your vic­tims?
Who will you hit to hide your shame?


Novem­ber 12, 1995

Let it rest, child.
Let their hatred go unchal­lenged.

Let them go child.
Best to leave them to them­selves.

Let it rest, child.
Give your­self the right to turn away.

Let them go child.
Find the strength to rise anoth­er day.