William James

working class poetry // punk rock performance


It may come as a surprise to you to discover this, 
but all the negative energy you've been sending our way, 
the grave looks over the tops of horn-rimmed glasses, 
the email forwards you send us showing great concern
over the rising price of gasoline, every one of your
carefully whispered nay-sayings, spoken under your breath
& whispered in the ear of a casual acquaintance – there's nothing
you could say that we haven't already told ourselves a thousand times
before. It happens on the nights when the check engine light
has been burning since somewhere back in Tallahassee
& we're just now driving through Joplin. Every mile
of highway beneath our feet takes us 5,280 ft. closer to breakdown, 
& we're placing bets in the back seat on whether it'll be
the engine or our spirits that shatters first. The mornings
we scrape our broken bodies off of hardwood floors, 
our bones a creaking staircase in a haunted house, we ask
ourselves those same inquisitions that furrow deep into your brow. 
How much longer can I live this way? & When I get home, 
how the fuck will I ever pay the rent? The answer becomes clear
when we need it most, until its revelation is the only thing that can
keep our swollen eyes from shutting & we're not accusing you
of being smug – just misguided – when we say it's something
you couldn't ever understand. Do you remember when you asked us
If you had a million dollars, what job would you want to do just for fun? 
You hoped we would answer with something practical; 
doctor, lawyer, even award-winning scientist – anything
that rippled with the promise of a bright, calm blue future, 
but we took your words for their literal meaning. We found
the fire in our bellies that threatened to consume us, swallowed
rainwater falling from the sky to wash it out. We only
learned the laws of physics so we could break them. 
We stopped believing that we couldn't run forever, 
so these days, we don't fear the same monsters as you. 
Call us young, say we're naive, tell us we're unwise
to the ways of the world, say that we should fill our hearts
with Worry instead of Wish. We will sleep with our eyelids open, 
we will believe that in spite of all your doubt, 
these are still good & worthy dreams. When we were young, 
you told us we could be anything. You never once taught us
anything                 we didn't already know.

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