Laughter fled our young mouths

before decency could intervene,

taking us on a careless detour

around the corner of cruelty.


Someone tossed a coarse comment

–it might have even been me–

about how hairy, how gross.


An outsider,

someone we never wanted to become

offered respite to our collective boredom.


Bolstered by backslaps

we competed for the crudest line

inspired by his ill-fitting shorts.


Entertained at last,

we snickered that wicked brand of delight

only earned at another’s expense.


Absorbed in the spectacle, I hardly felt

the tap on my shoulder.

I turned, looking into a woman’s pained face.


Her words, That’s my son,

still impale me

with their fierce declaration

of a truth I wish was not true.

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