Poetry Thursday: Slow death by bullshit happiness

old clip-art dude holding sign: Dead inside. You?

You think to yourself:
“I can do this!”
“This will be good for me!”
or even
“It doesn’t matter.”

And so you smile
when someone asks
how things are going,
broadly, you smile,
with most of your teeth,
and you flick aside what’s left of your heart,
and you stick out your hand and say,
“Couldn’t be better!”
or, when life is particularly bleak,
“Things are looking up!”

And you recite from memory
a menu,
several pre-selected items
from columns “A” and “B”,
of all the marvelous wins
and fabulous opportunities
and other stale pellets
of extruded terror
formed into appetizing, life-like shapes,
tarted up with brio
and garnished with a wilted sprig
of false humility
until you question
whether you can even remember
what it felt like
to really, truly feel anything.

What happens,
I wonder,
when you just
“Damn, I’m tired.
Business sucks,
traffic was awful,
my husband left me,
my hard drive crashed,
the dog has cancer,
and the Emperor’s ass
is a flat, pale, pockmarked bucket of sad
the sight of which is going to take years to wipe
from my memory banks.
What’s new in YOUR world?”

Whether everything is awful right now
or everything is perfect right now
everything IS right now.

And I can’t think of a single thing
that doesn’t get a little bit better
served up fresh
and truthfully,
with humor, with tenderness,
with the judiciously-chosen expletive,
dependent on company.

Besides, what’s the alternative,
slow death by bullshit happiness?

The end is coming,
either way.

And I’m guessing,
just guessing, mind you,
that if you let at least some of it
hang out,
the two of you
might even toast
to the ironies of life,
and the way a bump in the road
can turn two complete strangers
into fellow travelers.



  1. I love this Colleen — SO TRUE!… When I was a kid my mother taught me how to answer when anyone asked “How Are You?” I was supposed to say “Fine thank you, and you?” That was it. That was the answer – and the ONLY answer – to How are You. Like a conventional social contract to say “I’m safe. Are you safe too? I promise not to say or ask anything disturbing, truthful, confrontational, or too personal – will you agree to that too?” At least now, “authenticity” is trendy.

  2. This is exactly it. Thanks for championing real. We start out so real and just drift from there if we’re not careful, or if we follow the wrong leader. Belated happy Hanukkah to you. Merry Christmas and all the best in 2011. Thanks for another year of soul feeding.

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