Aside

that veteran grin

in the name of service, we break the boys down
we force their souls to shrink inward
we take the outer layers of flesh and tan their skin to leather
we forge fearsome armor from their muscles
we pile weights upon them so their bones grow hard

we only tell them to file their teeth down, though
that, we do not do for them
we use it as a measure of their dedication and purpose
we see if they have given up their will to the cause when they smile

oh, that veteran grin


my teeth were never filed down
yet i know the monsters among the sheep
i know what has made them
i know that the world finds it hard to love them when they smile
they have traded away the love of the sheep
and though the sheep may lay laurels and honor at their feet
respect is no replacement for love

my armor never grew and my bones never became hard
among the sheep dogs, i failed repeatedly, yet i had their love
for i was as a shepherd among them, with no need of religion
i cared for them and loved them and gave them all i could
other than my teeth

now i stand a shepherd among the sheep
and i long for the sheep dogs
 
i see them when they smile
they may wear woolen camouflage and hide among the sheep
and live in terror of the day they smile at the wrong moment
but i see them and still i love them

when they smile, sharp teeth glinting in the night
the sheep see only wolves

i see the love of a young boy
i see a love so strong that it would rather be forever unrequited
than dead

some filed their teeth for love of a single girl
some filed their teeth for the love of a single idea
some filed them out of fear, but fear is only a part of love

so when you see the teeth of a monster
ask yourself what made them
ask yourself what you love that much
ask yourself what love this fear is part of
are you afraid of what this monster will do to you?
are you afraid of what this monster will do to the child beside you?
are you afraid of what a man can become?

and yes, respect them!
respect that they loved something that much
but try to find love for them
try to love that little boy who shrank his soul
and offered his body out of love

that soul is there, imprisoned by armor and teeth
and that soul knows what love is and what love can cost
i cry for those souls and what those souls have lost
because those souls have lost, forever, the love of their brothers

if these words could kindle just a spark of love
i would gladly nurse it and fan the flames
if you would but pause and stand, a man
i will help you stop being a sheep and learn to be a shepherd

and i smile and i laugh
because in a world where every one of us learns
where we stop retreating from our fears
and start facing our loves
we will no longer need wolves and monsters

i smile thinking of a world, where little boys can love
and teeth are never filed

i laugh because all we need to do is love
all we need to do is stop
when we see sharp teeth, glinting in the night
and ask ourselves, what love this fear is part of

when we were first threatened
we drew lines in the sand
we called this one family and that one not

the circle grew bigger
this one is of my town and that one not

the circle grew bigger
this one is of my faith and that one not

the circle grew bigger
this one is of my nation and that one not

when the circle grows large enough
when no one is outside
there will be no wolves
there will be no sheep dogs
there will be no sheep
there will be only shepherds

so start today
love
smile
bare your teeth
in the only way we all should

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3 thoughts on “that veteran grin

  1. morgaine620 says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s certainly food for thought. And I believe it is very true even though hard truth to swallow 🙂

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