THE GIFT OF MY HATE - Buddy Wakefield

THE GIFT OF MY HATE - Buddy Wakefield

At the Concert for New York City in Madison Square Garden five weeks after 9/11 

Richard Gere stood in front of millions of viewers and said

We have the possibility to turn this horrendous energy we are all feeling 

from violence and revenge 

into compassion into love into understanding.*

The crowd 

booed him



as if to say, 


Buddha Boy, 

We will not be caught dead acting like Jesus Christ.

As if Christ only published concepts he wanted us to thump instead of experience. 

Granted, compassion is a wounded word. It gets 

banged around in the junk drawer. 

It is not an entitled driver. Would not survive in California.  

Compassion is often the last player picked.  So maybe Richard Gere 

should have used the word rest to suggest that we curb the poison of reacting so fast.

But journalists insisted Richard Gere’s proposal for love and understanding 

was the wrong time, wrong crowd, wrong message. 

I remember being 27, watching this, feeling 

like some fathers do not tell their children I am proud of you

like an entire city  had learned the language of a well-disguised suicide

smothered in clever headlines and a swarm of stagy news reporters 

who failed to mention  that a French man  named Antoine Leiris 

lost his wife and the mother of his child— 

with whom he was madly in love— 

to the terrorist attacks in Paris last week. 

It was no more excruciating than what happened in Baghdad, Beirut

or the West Bank during the same 24 hours. The difference 

is that five days later Antoine Leiris was the only man 

to post a love letter for his son on the BBC, 

an open message to those responsible for killing his wife.

He looked directly into their hungry little pain-bodies and told them

I won't give you the gift of hating you.


Pathetic propagandist. 

Candy-ass liberal... 

The insults that followed Antoine’s moment of peace made me realize 

Love – wounded a word as it may be – Love can see all of it 

but Anger – anger is only concerned with what it thinks is fair,

narrow like the barrel of the NRA,

like the blueprints to Russia’s femininity, to China’s childhood,

to North Korea’s private parts, to the bruised music of the Confederate flag states 

still singing like a drunk Englishman in a Tibetan monastery, loudly, louder, Hey! 

I’m the Over-Compensator! The Great Annihilator!

Cross me and you will know my pain! 

In each of us 

lives a small man 

with a 

good heart 

and an ego the size of  


Why are we not fighting fire with water?

Compassion will not make us lazy.
It is okay to cross these borders. It is okay to stay awake   

to love our own ignorance enough to look at it square in the wise guy, 

in the bright side, at the parts we are terrified to acknowledge 

because of the work it will probably cause us

because there is a chance we have been your own terrorists. 

There is a chance we are a failed relationship.

There is a chance that every single day 

we are the reason millions of animals actually weep before slaughter 

and we do not get to make up for it by watching adorable YouTube videos 

while stuffing our face with their death. 

It is more than some sellable cliché that – 

through these bodies – we are rooted to the same source,
that we have arrived on this planet to experience form.

Now that we’ve had some time to do that, please, 

let us reintroduce the idea of questioning everything

Excessive packaging. Planned obsolescence. Breeding... Planned obsolescence.

Identity. Fining people because they didn’t have enough money in the first place.

Anything impractical to the eradication of suffering.

Like denying refugees. Like putting a fence around freedom.

Like the oceans of care we keep for this world getting so landlocked in our chest 

that when the answer tries moving over all the God dams built across our flooded hearts 

to surprise us  with consciousness 

it might look like we are spitting back entitlements at the Earth.

Stand down. Stay still. Gather your wits. Find their ends. 

Pull out the slack and say clearly





Go ahead. Call me another cliché. 

Stick your violence in my meditation.

The worst you can do to me for not joining the gangland war on Christ’s behavior 

is shoot me in the look on my face, the one that says, I am not afraid to understand you. Or to stop you.

In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle calls us the noisiest humans in history. 

Some things do not need to be fact-checked. 

Stop backing up so loudly. You screaming siren on a cell phone. 

You heavy-footed upstairs neighbors. Bloated bodies of anger 

belting out boos the size of Madison Square Garden rejecting Richard Gere, 

who I know very little about, 

but who I suspect, like most humans, is part saint 

part fraud, and who reporters had to admit rebounded rather nicely  

when he acknowledged that what he had to offer was apparently unpopular right now

Like taking away your child’s assault rifle. 

Like the color white. 

Like the color brown. Like supporting 

the man in Nigeria who found the cure for HIV.

Unpopular is compassion. Like a savings account in Greece.

Like the topic of trafficking Stockholm Syndrome 

all the way back from New York City to right here down the West of me

where I am determined to see all of it 

because I don’t get to go blind again, not without 

carving the word coward in holy brail on every pen I will ever use 

to point out how pain cannot digest love. It works the other way. My body  

no longer loves writing poems for mass consumption.

It does not believe in blowing apart.

But I am still right here behind its habits, 

stacks of ground down teeth and a mashed-up forehead of rolling credits, 

working to see all of it, which I suspect is more productive than giving you 

the gift of my hate.

Buddy Wakefield is an American performance poet/slam poet. He is a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion whose latest works have been released by Righteous Babe Records and Write Bloody Publishing. 



THE SEVENTH STORY - Gareth Higgins

THE SEVENTH STORY - Gareth Higgins