if it’s the dear friend
you haven’t heard from in a while

if it’s a suspicious scar
or bruise

if it’s the normally jovial employee
suddenly gone quiet

if it’s the child
afraid to go home after school

if it’s sobbing
leaking from adjacent bathroom stall

if he breaks down in tears
right in front of you

if it’s a belabored soul
seemingly swallowed in darkness

if it’s a dreamer
who’s stopped pursuing tomorrow

if it’s a man
unwelcomingly touching a woman

if it’s an off-color joke or opinion
wildly crossing a line

but also if it’s a voice being silenced
with it’s right to learn or not

if one is singled out by a bully
of any age

if your buddy
is the bully
or the abuser

if it’s family
or some other loved one

if it’s you
(i know self-reflection is hard)

if it’s me
(that’s what poetry is for)

and most importantly
(as I feel needs to be said)

if it’s your own child

i could never list every scenario in a poem
but we all have a part we can play

tragedy feeds on sins of omission
and i never want the guilt

of being the man
who could have said
a little something more