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Shining Bitter Smiles; Burning Out A Fuse Up Here Alone by Paul Edward Costa


You know,

I take data from what I’m told

plus what I see,

plug it in

and the equation

keeps spitting out incoherent anarchy.

I hear how rude it is

to say

You'd look better if you smile

that we should feel our valid feelings,

or how forcing

a happy disposition

is its own oppressive misery

and everyone seems to agree

but I still see

the greatest predictor

of sizeable social circles and success

being how constantly you portray

a toy's icy layers

of permanent joy.

I must have missed the part in Winnie the Pooh

where Eeyore eats the right apple,

learns shame for his temperament,

and finally attains a state of worth.

Perhaps I never unheard

a past partner

casually proclaim justification

for my exclusion at work

by saying how, lately,

I had been really depressed,

and maybe Batman will appear an even darker,

more malevolent creature of the night

if the Joker successfully fills our atmosphere

with low enough levels of his laughing gas

that everything gets a bit more pleasant –

though not strange enough to actually listen

and pay attention

if someone says

wait…something is different.


Weaving freely

through different assemblies

or views

translates into rarely, if ever

feeling the comfort

of deep bonds to places

that transform those spaces

into homes,

Leading me to wonder

what gave me such a quality –

shouldn’t I be able

to remember my own origin story?

I just hope it was because

I had a naive, romanticised view

of detachment

mistaken for freedom

and not because some force

from outside or within

blocked my ability to recognize

nearby communities,

thereby taking away

any hope I had

of communicating with them.

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