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March 30, 2014

I think about failure,

The kind of agony that keeps you up at night like

A votive flickering until the prayer is answered:

For your teenager to stop slicing at herself and

Threatening to jump out of the car

As you drive her to school.

It’s always at night, with the self-flagellation,

When your thoughts begin to form themselves

Around the irreversible passage of time,

How could I have been so misinformed all these years?

There are no classes that prepare us for it, this thing we call living –

Sometimes it feels like Chinese water torture, you tell me –

Decisions that seemed right will go sour,

You will be lonely over and over, relentlessly,

You will be an addict; you will spiral out of control,

You will be poor, while others have

A mahogany table that seats six and house cleaners

Who come in a van every week to polish it down

With orange cream wax, meanwhile

You smile and make it work because nowadays

Feeling sad or anxious is just a disease you can reverse

By eating raw, doing yoga or taking pills

None of which you can make payments on because you have

Finally taken her away from him and he took the money.

It was one of those afternoons, calmer than others when

The neighborhood activity is tranquilizing as meadow sounds

And you go outside to see her working with him, some

Construction project, really, she’s just lingering with her poppa.

You tell her to come inside and he does the thing that changes it all:

He puts the staple gun to her face, like a hilarious joke

To your clueless, trusting baby but to you, a choke hold:

she stays with daddy

It falls, like a feather, that final slender, golden straw –

You do what it takes to preserve the continuity of the day,

The rest of your life, why don’t I go inside and get juice for everybody?

Reader, you have one assignment for this class:

Wake up and stop pretending like you aren’t going to die;

Stop pretending like there isn’t misery in and around you –

Find catharsis in the clamor –

Stop hoarding, stop not loving; stop denying yourself discomfort, regret,

Disappointment, anger, rage just because someone hinted the notion

If you ever feel hopeless, it means you’ve failed. Re-define failure:

Take a blowtorch to that little votive,

It’s time for some fucking answers.


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