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Milo peddles a pageant of insincerity that is immediately legible to fellow Brits. Americans understand irony differently, and sometimes not at all. The crowd of excitable young and young-ish people gathered to hear him pontificate believe what he’s saying, even if he doesn’t. Which he doesn’t. And it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real.

From Laurie Penny’s “I’m with the banned” in Medium.

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On Gentleness

Tell me I once came close, that your body wasn’t
an obelisk, and mine, so much wire wound
around wire. I will always wonder

if I can take you, know you will always be stronger,
and marvel at how you appear even larger
than before with my niece cupped

in your tattooed arms. I know something simple
provokes you to call: a comic book
we’ve both read, a good time

to visit, but my thumb hovers over ‘decline’
and I hold my breath before I press
against the waiting ‘answer’.

••

Before I left for Florida—a week after I tore
the collar of my shirt, twisting out
of your grip, a week after

I disappeared with our shared car, the Venture
minivan we nicknamed Vendetta,
and brought it back to you

empty and smashed—you stopped me to tell me
to never come back. You meant it. I said
I wouldn’t. I meant flinching

is something I’d only do in oncoming light, never
the overcoat of a shadow; being the size of
a threat did strange things to my tongue.

••

Tell me about the night I hurled a phone receiver
at your head and the orb of blood on your lip
that seemed like it’d never fall, how you

bound me by a wrist, bruised my ribs against the floor,
and never threw a single punch. Wasn’t that
a kind of gentleness, Jabari?

by JAMAAL MAY

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