How the fuck would you feel?

On a street of dead lawns, security grilles
bricks through windows
where St Vincent de Paul’s have moved out
because of crime

I’m thinking about soldiers and guards.
Fire stakes, nine-tails,
gas chambers, rape camps,
Detention centres.
Deaths in custody.
Cell suicide. Paddywagon murder.

Along the footpath a young woman
pushes a a stroller.
A little boy toddles behind her.
He strays too close to the road
as two-year-olds will.
She grabs his ear and drags him back.

Another few driveways, he strays again.
She picks him up by the hair
and the other ear,
lifts him through the air,
dumps him next to the stroller,
walks on, staring at the horizon.
I can hear him howling all the way up the street
as he toddles bewildered after her.

I want to cross the street and get in her face with
‘Oi! How the fuck would you feel
if someone did that to you?’

but I suspect
she already knows.

(First published in Creatrix)