Misplaced Rage

Huddled on the sidelines
I watch
as you argue, berate
those to whom anger
does not belong . . .

Yet understand,
for learning confrontation
is a painful process
taken in tiny steps
a little at a time,
until strength is gained.

And you know,
even as the argument wanes
understanding of your actions
shines clearly in your eyes,
and that haunted look
of a child who has wronged
creeps across your brow.

But the time
has not yet come
for anger to be placed
where it belongs –
inner pain still holds
too firm a grasp,
and fear of rejection
looms as too harsh a reality.

Better the waiter,
life guards, clerks, delivery people –
they are accustomed
to undeserved pettiness . . .
soon the day may come
when you can look your tormentor
in the eye and spit back
the grief and rage
hoarded in years of submissiveness.

But for now –
where does the waiter go
at day’s end
and who becomes
the unwilling victim
of his pain . . .
where does the cycle end?

I walk down
a leaf-strewn street
and glance upon a dog
with tail tucked between legs –
and cry . . .

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