A Trophy of His Heritage

Family violence is a tough subject to approach without one of three possible outcomes.

Problem one, your writing gets preachy, holier than thou, taking a moral high ground while condescending to speak on the evils of domestic abuse, which usually has the effect of alienating the sections of your audience that have first hand experience, or reinforcing the stone-minded perceptions of those who only know domestic violence from after-school specials or news broadcasts.

Problem two, your voice takes on the persona of victim, a woe-is-me sort of weepy tirade to what your reader will assume was a trouble childhood, justification for the messed-up way that the writer turned out, and explanation for his or her own personal demons.

Problem three, the reader assumes that you are attempting to justify the actions of the abuser, explain away the whys and wherefores of bruises and scars, either out of some self-serving need to assuage your own guilt or a kind of digital Stockholm syndrome defense of the person who hurt us originally.

This poem was an attempt to address the issue reasonably, without rancor, defense or psychological insight. It is what it is.

A Trophy of His Heritage

He is using his fists
shattering crockery
and silence
in equal measure.

A man named for his father
lives the life
his father lived
in the same way
with the same mind.

Only when he is spent
and there is little left to break
is he able to hold
his rage aloft,
carry it about the house;
a trophy of his heritage.

He has locked himself in,
bolted and barred the door.
Whatever would like to get at him
will have to knock hard -
knuckle-bruising hard.

He thrashes against the window
watching Love walk through his garden,
enflamed anew
at this trespass;
how dare she ask
for an explanation.

Originally Published in "Grief Tattoos" - get the Kindle edition HERE
©2010 Christopher Reilley

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