The Nature Of Evil

I know
the nature of Evil — 

Evil capitalized, Evil as a 
unifying force, Evil not as cartoon cackle

stifled in polite company
but as policy and practice

stiffly written on solid legal
ground and traditional paper —

I know the nature of Evil
due to its presence

in my raising, my ordinary male-raising
that weaponized dense old parts of my soul

which I keep trying to change or crush away 
to no apparent effect since too often

it pushes through and then I lie awake
examining myself until I shake

from knowing how much
I’ve sparked to happen through the clumsy

and sometimes unconscious use of my Evil —
I know enough of Evil to shudder

whenever I meet another 
who reminds me of myself,

whenever I am drawn to their heat
by our common likes and dislikes,

whenever I meet someone
I am drawn to for their refreshing lack

of fucks given
for the sensibilities of others, their

overripe post-adolescent reliance
on just past prime slang and ironic slant

on the nature of the Evil they do
in all seeming innocence,

claiming the right to freedom
trumps the responsibility 

to do as little harm as possible
while living as harmfully as we do,

as I do — I know
the nature of Evil

due to having been
a lifelong carrier,

a candle that reveals
how deep the darkness has become,

and I fear that my choices now
are to continue as this

until I burn at last away,
the last of my flame

climbing a wispy column
toward unreachable heights;

to end it now and snuff
my candle cold; or 

to find a firestorm against Evil somewhere
and add myself to it; then

(if I am not consumed there)
to come back as something

not myself, something I fear, something
I do not know 
how to be.


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

6 responses to “The Nature Of Evil

  • Andrew

    Tony, I really like about 80% of this poem. But I think your closing trio of lines uses a cliché that lumps it, at the very last minute, with a lot of very dull 18-to-24-year-old poetry about lack of fucks. And it’s strong enough elsewhere to deserve better at the last.

    I was going to try to say this less bluntly, but then I thought, “no, Tony is the sort of person who would rather have clarity. And he makes my soul sing with that kind of terror and savage joy that this poem speaks about in all of its other lines. So I’ll tell him.”

    • Tony Brown

      I’m really tired right now. Just in from a three hour drive. But honestly? That was kind of what I was going for since I think the speaker in the poem is pretty juvenile….I’ll revisit tomorrow. Thanks.

    • Tony Brown

      Try it now — I think the lines worked for what I was aiming for, but I think I did not provide enough context for them and I’ve extended the poem to include that context. Thanks for the feedback, as always.

      • Andrew

        Oh, gods, yes.

        I tried to write this on a tiny screen, failed, pulled out the laptop. Not sure I can express this anyway, but here goes: before, the finality of your last three lines had a sense of hanging a hook on a zipline of cultural relevance, just going for a ride whose direction was determined by others. And now it feels like it’s the wise men deciding to go home by another way — more dangerous, less clear, but chosen.

      • Tony Brown

        Ok. Good. Thank you again.

  • Eileen

    My history is filled with the evil of things not done because of selfishness and chosen blindness. Without grace, i would despair when looking back. And even now see sadly that I have only changed a little……and still begrudge others kindnesses that call on my depleted energies and I hide my eyes from the wounds and emotional hunger of those around me out of fear they might devour me if I responded.

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