All Things Relative, III

Poetry by Taj Alexander Mahon-Taft

Shirtless muscles ripple
fluorescent institutional reflections
of laughter in a cage,
evidence of malnutrition
not dietary regimen.
Men find joyous whoops
in echoes of bouncing cubes
beneath gunmetal stairs
framing our communal living room
wagering Monopoly moolah
representing ramen and deodorant.
Plastic-clipped belts fail,
state elastic-waisted denim sags
beneath the weight of steel clips
now only tattooed onto waistlines.
Defanged and outside their hell,
“demons” are hedons now lost.
Have their hearts changed
or were they always just seeking laughter?

Boyz ‘n tha Hood,
studio set simulacrum
which is reality
which is the celluloid?
All things relative
to their realm.
Who drives culture
and who rides shotgun?

What’s the difference between
urban “men” and suburban “boys”?
Only a bullet to a BB,
the sentence and the context,
but their acts and points the same.
Only the shade of the footage
and the direction of the lens.
Nighttime ghoul scream faces
daylight are but toothy, goofy grins.

What’s a grand dragon
but a ghost costume
with a megaphone
atop a whetted point?
All things relative
to their realm.
Not all that is neutered
has been fixed.

Self-defeat or destruction,
self-destruction or defeat?
Punctuation and context
blend the words
and erase boundaries.
All things
relative to their realm.