by Stephanie Kaiser
To my brother,
You are to blame.
It was your first election, and in your mind you could not decipher who would be the lesser of two evils, so you took the coward’s path.
You do not get to distance yourself from a disgusting man who will lead our country into the gallows,
Because in remaining silent when you should have been loud, you put us in there and tied our noose.
You sat idle, and you lost your chance.
You did this. You let hate and fear win, and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why.
You didn’t even think about standing in line to cast the first ballot of your adult life.
What you call a lapse in human judgment
I see clearly as a lapse in your intentions.
Because good intentions don’t do a thing
When the people holding the lighter ask you to bring a match and instead of leaving,
Or bringing a bucket of water,
You just stay there,
Another twig in the pile of kindling.
I see too much of our father in you.
Maybe if you saw the world as what it is –
imperfect, an asymmetrical mesh of greys that bleed into each other –
and not as the black and white, clear as day, solved puzzle you seem to think it is, I wouldn’t be mad at you.
Maybe we could be mad, together.
But you sat back, and you let your apathy be hijacked by hatred.
You’ll never understand why this isn’t fair, because empathy is something you have lacked from the day you sent me into the hospital to get stitches and then complained when you were grounded.
Actions are not without consequence,
Well, neither is inaction.
Choosing to do nothing is the same as doing something,
When that same someone doing that same something that you pretend you are immune to
Is breeding hate, and violence, and is taking a sledgehammer to every
Law and amendment and democratic right
That stands in his way.
And to you who said that your one voice wouldn’t matter,
You’ve clearly never tried screaming,
Though I hope to God one day you learn,
That a sore throat and burst lungs and bloody fists from a lost fight
Are worth every heartache they cause,
because they mean you found your backbone
And you chose to use it,
Rather than let it turn to ash from neglect.
Because they mean you stood up for what matters,
And for once, for once,
You understood that being detached means attaching yourself
To the one with the bulldozer,
To the one who wants to roll me right over until I am just a crack in the sidewalk,
You step over, to save your own spine.
I hope one day you find something that is worth fighting for,
Because I learned today,
That you never thought I was worth a damn thing.