BullyHe rumble-barrels up the bus steps
like a football team charging
out the tunnel into the lighted stadium—
pure, electrified punishment—
and slams himself up against
the window, the artillery of Metallica
guitar riffs firing from
his headphones, through his head,
through the air, annihilating the sounds
of friends talking, homework swapping,
His school day starts
in detention, in the silence where
he can almost hear the boyfriend’s bruises
smoldering in his flesh and his rage
meditates to his mother’s mantra fucking loser.
Scorn adopts him and begins to teach
his manhood, coaches him to punch out the
dickhead Craig who took his
starting quarterback role,
stub out cigarettes on the hoods of cars,
screw Leslie or Tammy or
anyone who will accept the tall
unsheathed cord of his body.
His teachers fear and resent him too much
to try to convince him that Mark Twain,
math, Einstein, history, might be
talismans to fight his pain.
A counselor’s ignorant sincerity,
asking him Why are you so angry? Why
do you think you crave negative attention?
arms his hate and triggers his spite.
He hits the hallways hungry,
rushes into the cafeteria, where
Tyler, the dentist’s son, sits,
lucky enough to have a full tray,
untorn clothes, unlucky enough
to have risked the side-long glance
seen through the steel shaft of the
bully’s vision, and unlucky enough for
him to have found the answer to
each kid’s question Why me?
Because everybody pays,
everybody pays through the teeth.