It’s Not So Black-and-White As Black Or White

i used to
maintain positivity
at all costs.
i would
wake up early and
read books
to spike my ego.
i would
write myself
long notes
and then
print & laminate
them, then
fold them into
my wallet.
i would
talk to myself
in bathroom mirrors
at intervals
throughout the day.
i would
convince myself
that i was
worth liking
that i was
valuable, special
one-of-a-kind
so that
i would
always be smiling
when i
shook
a
customer’s hand
or
spit
some formless
platitude
into
an unlucky co-worker’s
starving eyes.

i always admired that about you,
Tom once told me.
it was sad to see it go:
like the last vestige of innocence
dying off.
you walk with a weight on your shoulders
now: sadness. i can tell.
everyone can. i kind-of hoped reality would
never find you.

but reality did.
and i threw
all those
rubber books
in black plastic
trash cans
then
left them at the
end of the driveway
for the men
in the
every-Monday
creaking blue truck.
and i quit my job
and i cleansed
my
wallet
and when i
look in mirrors
today

i don’t say a single goddamned word.

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