64.

When I was a boy there was an enormous guy
on my bus route. He was easily 6’4″ by ninth grade.
Everyone was terrified of him, for decent reasons
(I believe he’s dead now – a fight at a party).

We shared a bus stop, so my assumption was that
I was in for endless torment. But on the first day
of my freshman year, we were talking and he chuckled
at an observation I’d made about a comment he made.

That was that – I was insulated from all threats
(for the most part, it’s high school after all).
Just by listening and reflecting back some tiny
thing, a thing I don’t remember, in a conversation

with a guy who maybe felt a little underheard.
Suddenly I was all right. Compare to now –
one manic orange doofus whose glossolalia
contained enough meaning for the huge angry white guy

in our hearts to feel responded to & validated.
They were his from the moment he ranted about
whatever thing it was that was the last straw.
In that sense, we got the president we deserve –

the one who took the pent up hate and stroked it gently,
said “I get that you’re sad about the failure
of the universe to center you.”
It’s all they’ve heard from that moment.

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