I’ve never killed anyone. I’m pretty sure of it. But I’ve done things I wasn’t supposed to do. Hell, when I was younger, I broke quite a few laws and was lucky to have never been caught. Most of those laws were/are moronic and shouldn’t exist in the first place. I never felt guilty disrespecting legislation enacted by and for business interests. Really couldn’t give a shit.
When I was a kid, now, I understood guilt. My parents were good at just sort of putting their laws out there and allowing me to either obey them or suffer the consequences. Any time I broke a rule, the guilt I felt, I’m sure, had to do with the fact that I knew I was going to get my ass kicked the moment my parents found out (which they almost always did. They’re smart folks, what can I say?).
In my days of breaking local and national Uncle Sam’s laws, I ran with a lot of criminals who had very good reasons to feel guilty (most of them are dead now—I wonder if their guilt, however, lives as a form of energy, just hanging out in the atmosphere somewhere, maybe pestering innocent birds or something; but I digress. It’s a habit). I once hung out with a Korean gangster who had just come back from head-butting a man who owed him money. He had a horrific gash in his forehead that had opened so far I could see his skull. I asked him why he didn’t just threaten the man with a gun, maybe even shoot him in the foot or something. He said that would have made him feel bad.
Hmm. I guess guilt arrives in different forms for different folks.
I’m really digressing here. Let me get to the point (or at least try to)—
I was asked to write about one of the poems on the 5-2 website. I read through a heap of them before coming across Amy Pollard’s “Aftershock.” I guess what struck me about her poem was how she just shrugged off any psycho-babble Dr. Phil bullshit pretense and just gave us the explicit thoughts of a man who has just done something terrible to another human being. Maybe it’s murder. I like to think it doesn’t matter. His reaction makes the poem. There’s no way it could be me, he says. It’s all chance. And maybe it is. The thought Amy’s poem ultimately left me with was this:
Once the deed is done, in the face of the tragedy left behind, is guilt even relevant?
To read Amy's wonderful poem, please head over here.