you learn some things

I know better
than to call a bad person
a vulture
as if they would do such work
with discarded scraps
care so little
for how they appear
and make such a difference
in this messy world

I know better
than to harm a good person with
a joke
as if masking unkindness
with humor
and a smiling face
could hide true intent
and seem like levity
in these contentious times

I know better
than to ascribe to any person
a label
as if “good” and “bad” were permanent states
with foolproof identifiers
and could not change at any moment
from a single sneeze of fate
or be layered like sediment all the way down
into a molten, ever-churning center