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with Jesus

Les Murray (b. 1938)

"Where Humans Can't Leave and Musn't Complain"

Where humans can’t leave and mustn’t complain
there some will emerge who enjoy giving pain.

Snide universal testing leads them to each one
who will shrivel reliably, whom the rest will then shun.

Some who might have been chosen, and natural police,
do routine hurt, the catcalling, the giving-no-peace,

but dull brilliance evolves the betrayals and names
that sear dignity and life like interior flames.

Hormones get enlisted, and consistency rehearsed
by self-avengers and failures getting in first,

but this is the eye of fashion. Its sniggering stare
breeds silenced accomplices. Courage proves rare.

This models revolution, this draws flies to stark pools.
This is the true curriculum of schools.

Les Murray, Killing the Black Dog (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009), p. 50.

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