The Veneer

In the Los Angeles rain
I drive
one of six hundred forty four thousand
parents all forced into it
by a broken school district
devoid of heart and student transit
from within my calm Mitsubishi bubble
I look out
through the eyes of a cop
the eyes of a frightened piglet
for all around me
I spy hate and rage
hulking brutes hunched red-eyed
over steering wheels
tires screech on dampened tarmac
horns blast open discontent
brakes squeal hostility
car doors slam
fists pound the dash
as blades furiously sweep across their vision
it’s a war
ready to break
at the mildest provocation
and like any trained monkey in uniform
I expect the worst
the horror of sudden violence
all these responsible gun owning civilians
are everyday so capable of
beasts of malice and blood
rearing the next generation on it
as the frustration of parallel parking mounts
as windscreen wipers’ rapid rhythms
beat on in sync
to that of their maddening pulse
the vein throbbing at the temple
capable of bursting
as sure as they are
it’s all terrible to behold
the thin veneer of polite society
is a frost upon the dirt
held at zero
on a warming planet
the icicle of Damocles
begins to drip
and it is best seen here
where a lack of public services
erodes the patience of the people
as they scramble through a hectic morning
helpless, rushed
attendance records, grades, tardy slips
and their own jobs
on the line day after brutal day
I drive
I see
safe and warm
I turn up the heat
I turn up the music
I close my cowardly cop eyes
exhale, pull to the curb
switch off the ignition
and walk my son to his door
to the crossing guard I say, “Good morning.”
as I pass
we must maintain

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