We have these questions we ask each other
Which should often have meaning
but have been relegated to nothing more than
Sympathy cards with signatures
A cause for which we don’t expect the effect
As almost on instinct we vomit niceties
And polite inquiries like,
“How are you?”
“How are things?”
“How have you been?”
Never really expecting an answer
beyond the mask of sincerity
Where our tongues tap
The polite hair trigger
Of insincere sincere questions
Never expecting that banal projectile
To strike a wound
Like we’re all bulletproof
With social norms and expectations
To keep aches and pains
staked to the ground and chained
Connected to the guard dog-eared pages
Of our heart-felt yearning for honesty
We all long for honesty
But it’s too difficult to put the phrase
“I’m fine,” or “I’m good”
under the microscope to see all the
Captured thoughts and injuries used
to draw up the letters
And strike up the percussion of
the lips, teeth, tip of the tongue
that construct the truth behind those
crammed into those loaded words, “I’m fine”.
None of us is fine.
The crooks of our mouths
Illustrate the lie of levity fabricated
But our brows bend like bows
The kind that fire arrows
And so the question is begged from the corner
Where I’m standing watching your spirit
Fall crooked, face in hands
Buckle under the question
that I just gotta ask
“Are you happy?”
Answer me honestly.
Tell me why that face succumbs to gravity
When you think nobody’s looking?
Like you push so hard against the rocks
In that glass you’ve pressed to your lips
Kissing goodnight inhibition
So you can behave like the same animals
Who talk like humans with liquid giggles
Like bubbles floating to the surface
To barricade the way for your heartbeat
to make an exit.
Instead only letting the pulse of two words.
“I’M-fine… I’M-fine… I’M-fine… I’M-fine.”
This infrequency of transparency is a sin
Even I’m guilty of
So I understand better than most the reticence
To tell the truth in lieu of a two word lie
The inconvenience of laying yourself out on the table
Is someone will take a part and break it to shards
Like we were never made from anything other than glass.
So, I understand.
But I can’t watch this dance you do without sinking.
Time alters even the most solid of stone
I just happen to be most resistant to erosion
So, when I see pieces of people chipped away
When I don’t see them and then see them again
That distance creates an irreversible change
But then again I wonder if that’s true.
I once could say to someone, “Yes I knew you”
And perhaps that hasn’t changed entirely
But I wish I knew.
“Are you happy?”
I don’t know.