| words that get in your teeth

Venom by Michelle Eccellente Stevenson

Michelle Eccellente Stevenson author photo
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Standing in the checkout line,

I waved hello, but I didn’t recognize you.

Once amicable, previously approachable,

you were not there.

 

Disturbed, but not surprised, I recalled hints

of your path towards a closed-mind.

Over time, in the company of others,

marching to the beat of exclusion.

Tromping on the ideals of inclusivity.

 

Still, I hadn’t previously been introduced

to the poisonous scowl that painted your

face each time you glanced at the register.

 

Condescendingly, with your arms crossed,

disdain pouring out, you glared

at the young mother in front

of us, paying with her food stamps card.

 

As if she was less than.

As if she wanted to put back the

items that tipped her over the edge.

As if she wanted to hear her kids beg for

the cereal that turns milk into chocolate.

 

Had that hateful scowl been concealed,

waiting for someone to say “it’s

okay for it to come out and play”?

Are you one of the many, emboldened

by others, who declares, “go ahead,

tell it like it is, no holding back”?

 

And then you did,

unable to contain the viciousness any longer.

Loud enough

for her to hear

for her children

for us all.

 

Loud enough, with malicious intent,

to wound the vulnerable.

You hissed and spat venom,

“If you can’t afford groceries…!”

 

You turned and expected me to agree.

I watched you, dumbfounded,

briefly stuck in my spot.

Shocked and disgusted,

I walked away, abandoning my groceries,

leaving them as a testament to your tirade.

The abandoned basket a reflection of your

deserted humanity.

Poem previously published in Too Well Away literary journal (Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 2021)

Michelle Eccellente Stevenson is a mom, wife, abstract artist, writer, TEDx Speaker, and Founder of Cultivate Caring.  Michelle’s Bachelor of Arts degree, with a dual major in Political Science and Sociology, gave her a peek into the window of how connected we all are.  The bulk of Michelle’s career was spent in the training and development sector, working for major corporations as an educator. She now spends her time trying to make sense of the world through art and writing.  Color and mood define her visual art pieces and themes of humanity bind Michelle’s literary works.  A contributor to numerous art exhibits and literary publications, Michelle can be followed on social media @MESStudioArt.  Her TEDx Talk ‘How Caring Connects Us’ is on YouTube and she invites you to join her on social media @CultivateCaring to discover how you can care more about yourself, others, and the world.

 

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