They All Fall Down

You can smell violence like you would a dying flower in an empty lot, mold gathering in all the cracks, hearing the distant sound of sirens, eating a honey bun you got with your last $0.50 from a convenience store you haven’t been to in years, understanding that this is the place, this is the time, this is where you make your stand, on the street corner standing opposite the ones who wave confederate flags, showing toothless grins, with beards the color of puke, knowing that this place you now call home is not where you were born but where you were born again, and all of these fuckwits come in with out of state license plates, cheesing for the cameras, trying to get the next soundbite that will go viral, no real conviction behind their words, and you can tell that last part by how they look at you, or rather how they look away and won’t meet your stares with their own, because they haven’t been through real hardship, really, maybe drink and drugs but not poverty, not violence, not the gnawing sense that you could be hurt or killed at any moment just stepping outside your door, being told not to leave your home or go certain places at certain times, having to take precaution always, not knowing if you can trust your own neighbor, you’ve been there but they haven’t, because you can see it in their eyes when they spout their slogans, when they sing their dixie, you can see the death in there–a death that their bodies and brains haven’t caught up to yet but their souls have already suffered, and what comes out of their mouths is a result of fear, and all fear can be exploited–you know this as you stand in front of them, some of these old men still playing confederate dress-up, LARPing as johnny rebel even though they’ve never had to fight their entire lives, only fought by choice, always on the losing team, the wrong side, and when you stand in front of one of them and ask him if he knows that he’s on the wrong side of history, he’ll say this is his history, this alternate story constructed in his brain, and you know he’s not worth the effort to swing your fist, not worth the effort and yet there might be one in the future who is, so you show up every time because this isn’t done until it’s done, statues aren’t gone till they’re gone, and you have to show up, have to be present, have to be visible so that they know they will be fought every step of the way, so that they know their ideology is cancerous, so that they lose the same battle their ancestors lost before them–because these wars are not won with rhetoric or even argument. They all fall down, but they have to be made to fall.

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