Poetry

Calling Baby Brother Out

By: Dane Shannon
I hear him playing those violent video games,
hollering through his headset at some stranger.
Through his door, nonsense. His threats are all the same.

I wonder if he even knows those other players’ names
as he curses them. Boorish and brutal, he’s off on another rager.  
I’ve heard it—his temper while he plays his games.

He’s always playing—toying—inflicting pixeled gunshot refrains.
Blast, blood, and ego. At least he’s found an outlet for his anger.
From his room, gibberish, his bellowing all sounds the same.  

My father’s lessons are better spent in there, where my brother can drain
himself of panicked punishment, in control and finally anchored.   
Hearing him at peace, playing murder in his lonely games.

I’d call him out. But I’ve learned the redness of his face—his shame
is a prelude to outrage and bruises—his face bloats with danger.
Against the wall, speechless, I cower. My interventions always end the same.

He’s lost in the powerplay, with his fists—masters of chest pain—
beating against both of our ribcages. His machismo. His human nature.  
I heard it and conceded. He won, playing that little game.
In my beaten heart, inexplicably, I love my baby brother all the same.

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