Smile, Buddy (Dedication to a Forgotten Face)

Walking along, all alone
My head faced down, blocking out the passers-by
Who threaten to interrupt my thoughts
Or threaten to interpret them
And I see it, a penny on the ground

My mind full of questions
Frustrations overflowing at the answers that don’t come
And as I brew a half-pot of unhappiness
A random voice calls “smile, buddy”
A random voice, a forgotten face

Unsure of my surroundings
Not knowing how
Forgetting to learn
Insecure in the darkness of my shadow
Somewhere a little boy hops along singing

“I did so many things I didn’t know I could do today”

And I remind myself to think small
Look beyond the despair, the answer is there
Because the truth is not that I am alone
The truth is that I have an attitude problem
“Whatever” is so passive-aggressive
Synonymous with “unwilling to see”
Unhappiness more potent than acknowledging potential
Not doing safer than doing
Living was easier without a child’s wonderment
But I was sinning against myself

And years went by without laughing
Months went by unowned
Hours pulled and gouged and made me invisible to myself
About to witness the underside of a rock

But I saw butterflies, bees and pregnant ladies
An outstretched hand meant for giving, not taking
And I remembered that the answer is there
Beyond the despair
And now because my vocabulary exists in only two words
To that outstretched hand I voice “Thank you”


Featured in Quarter Passed: Collected Works from Twentysomethings Around the WorldPaperback: March 1, 2009

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