Hate Lessons

POETRY FORMAT, 15 Apr 2019

Leslie Lytle – TRANSCEND Media Service

I don’t know what to do with the sadness
or the hate. The hate
what makes me sad. Not
my hate. The haters’ hate. The haters
have been trying to teach me
to hate. See the bird. See
my boot. See the concrete curb,
perch for the bird. Thump.
Crunch. Crackle. (Think your teeth
breaking a taco chip into crumbs.) Beak
burping blood. Feathers
leaking out from beneath boot sole. Hater
eyes searching mine for co-mission.
Bad bird. Not the kind
we want. Get it? Hate
bad bird. I curl up my fists. My mind
fights me. Don’t! Don’t
hate the haters. Glad it’s winter
curl up beneath layered blankets
loving warmth. Afraid
of morning. Afraid it won’t
still be dark when I open my eyes,
loving warmth and darkness. Afraid
of morning dim in the window
like the shadow cast by the dead bird
who wants me to do something. What?
Hate the hater? Be the obedient
pupil? Learn
to hate? Let the haters win?


Leslie Lytle’s poems have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Literary Review, New England Review and elsewhere. In her novel Chicken Stock (Hedgehog and Fox, 2015), a young woman desperate to save the family farm battles corporate agriculture. In Execution’s Doorstep (nonfiction, University Press of New England, 2008) five innocent men struggle against a system that wants to execute them for crimes they didn’t commit—“in real life, the true hell just might be inside the heads of the innocent men behind bars.” (Playboy, Nov. 2008). She works as a reporter for the Sewanee Mountain Messenger.



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 Apr 2019.

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5 Responses to “Hate Lessons”

  1. Werner T. Meyer says:

    “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage.
    Anger at the way things are, and
    Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

    Saint Augustine

  2. Gary Corseri says:

    Fine work, Leslie.

    (Is there a misprint in the 3rd line–“what” instead of “that”?)

    • Leslie Lytle says:

      “What” is correct. In the sentence fragment “Hate/what makes me sad” the predicate (is) is understood. The same is the case in your much appreciated comment, “Fine work, Leslie” where both the subject (this) and predicate (is) are understood. Thanks for asking.

      • Gary Corseri says:

        What is, is.
        And what’s what
        what matters.

        What matters is
        the “is” of it.

        Would Watts agree?