hannah’s hurt

a girl named hannah
with the intent to hurt,
was once very successful.

i don’t know what kind of darkness inside
would lead a person
to form a goal
to hurt some poets…

poets,
of all people,
poets…

but i imagine it is a person who is
wounded with bitterness
afraid of connection
insecurely arrogant
and who fills her free time with cruelty instead of creativity.

someone who is probably hurting deeply herself.

she mostly sat silently in the back
of the twice-monthly open mic.
though a few times
she stood in front of the crowd to share her poems too,
poems which used the word ‘cunt’ a lot.
and then she went home.

little did we know
she was harboring hatred and anger
towards people who had also
simply had the courage
to stand there
and share what they had written too.

some were lifelong poets
but many were new to the art.
some had only just written their first poem the week before
but they were all welcomed
and celebrated
and encouraged
equally
by myself and others who stood in support of creativity,
creativity at any level,
twice a month
in celebration of words.

and it was they
that she lobbed her arrows at:
the new
the trembling
the brave and unsteady
who were trying something new

she spoke of them harshly,
calling them hacks
calling their words amateurish
laughing at their still-developing writer-voices.

a girl named hannah
with the intent to hurt,
was once very successful.

she didn’t have the courage to stand in front of us
and say her words aloud
so she published them
as a contributed editorial
in our small-town newspaper

and she hid.

she never showed her face again
at our twice-monthly gathering
in celebration of poetry.

but her words reached us still.

her words hurt those she aimed her vitriol at,
and they hurt me,
who had created the gathering
offered the opportunity
offered myself
offered my words
offered space and time and money and encouragement
in celebration of creativity.

many years have passed,
and i’ve written many words since then
(some of them were even poems)
and i’m sure all the others have as well.

and i wonder if hannah is happy today.
i wonder if she remembers fondly
that time
she aimed poison arrows
at those who had the courage
to try something new
to put themselves out there
in the name of
poetry
beauty
the appreciation of life
and connection with others.

i wonder if she is still thinking of ways to hurt poets.

perhaps she has moved on
to clubbing baby seals
or plucking rose seedlings from the earth
or stealing milk from babies
or pissing on the sacrament
or farting near old people in wheelchairs
or bullying gay middle-schoolers
or telling newlyweds they’ll be divorced soon
or tripping kindergarteners as they run by
or telling teenage girls they are fat and ugly
or spiking diabetics’ food with sugar
or stealing sandwiches from homeless shelters
or throwing puppies into raging rivers
or funding tyrannical and oppressive world leaders

it makes me think
that the kind of person
who aims
to hurt poets,
to silence poets,
is the kind of person who
probably has a dreamless sleep of fear inside her heart.
and who probably hasn’t changed much.
and who probably needs poetry the most.

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