Oh, but to button up your salmon shade shirt
as first light suffuses the sky
to grab your leather case
to head out into the utilitarian
the slow murder of the freeway
the stone faces behind desks
the clerks the admins the accountants
the space between eyes like
air between walls
the cubicles lashed together
under fluorescent strips of lights.
The unsettling labyrinth of hidden voices
hitting their sales targets.
It can skew your sanity
itch at your primordial mind
that this isn’t and never
was intended to be
the way for us so long
hidden under rocks and leaves
This isn’t really you
beneath this artificial skin
thin as paper on a desk
but the children require cellphones
and your wife a new look.
As slowly your face
moulds into that shit-eating grin while
thanking your next client
your blood wants blood
your past cannot forgive you.
You measure yourself
with false advertisements
and spend all night
locked in dreams
mocking your life.
Humans are predominantly fragile creatures. You cannot deny the invariable condition of the species. People collide into all sorts of things including each other. They get scratched, bruised, and sometimes broken.
Then there was Henry. ‘Built to last!’ was his slogan after he shattered his elbow and fractured his femur.
You couldn’t tell Henry that he wasn’t superman no matter how many times he came home with another fall or fail, another fracture or broken bone, another gratuitous scar. His attitude was firmly stoic despite all the operations, the orthopedic implants, the sheer amount of titanium introduced into his body over time.
Some people would just quit. Stay inside. Hire security. Weep before an ever-loving God with complete resignation and devotion. Not Henry. He would book an extreme parasailing adventure or unsuccessfully take on the Bangkok underground fighting circuit. And he would always come back with a new injury and an incredible story that’s validity was questionable at best.
Henry’s singular drive towards putting himself in harm’s way was exhausting and seemed to be his only talent. Some people were just built a certain way that confounded the rest of us. Perhaps it was life laughing at itself.
When a building finally came down on Henry, he should have been absolutely crushed but miraculously had managed to only break his leg (again). How or why no longer applied in his dimension. I didn’t even get the full story except that he had stumbled onto a pending demolition site looking for a lost puppy. At this point in his life, I was the only person left in the world that would pick Henry up from the hospital.
Henry snickered as he hobbled over. “Built to last!” He gleamed.
Are you trying to be the hero?
I’m definitely not.
You can’t see me.
I’m just trying not to
antagonize the rabid dog at my fence or
sew my fingers together or
pop the child’s favorite balloon
with a rusty razor blade or
bring any notice whatsoever
to the protagonist
of an incredibly unimaginative story that’s
more like a prolonged senseless beating
than a beer commercial.
I look out the window and shudder.
It’s just not for me.