By Don Iannone
Don't be too quick to assume
That this poem is about me.
After all, it might be about you,
Or the neighbor next door,
Or the guy you work with,
Or even your mother.
There is a tendency we show
Towards self-indulgent despair.
You know what I mean,
If you have ever revelled
In writhing over your own pain.
For some reason we think
Something greater will come
From the pain we inflict upon ourselves.
That's not what self-sacrifice is all about.
Compassion, empathy, and
Giving to others is something entirely different.
Self-sacrifice is hanging yourself on a cross,
Thinking your pain will free another.
Instead, your self-inflicted pain will cause others
To hang themselves, for no reason.
We believe there is some price
We must pay for happiness or peace.
We seem obsessed with the notion
That we must suffer
To get what we need in life.
That good things happen only
To those walking the path of suffering.
Suffer we do,
Every time we turn the whip of fear
Upon ourselves, thrashing last drops
Of decency out of our beings.
Suffer we do,
When we turn the club of doubt
Upon ourselves, bludgeoning hope,
The best friend we'll ever have,
Until we shovel ourselves
Into some weepy dark grave.
But why shed tears then?
We've already lived our hell.
It's fashionable these days
To be narcissistic, like everyone else.
To be self-absorbed, like some fish
Drinking up the water it lives in.
Catch yourself before it's too late.
Look in the mirror and see for once
Your own desperation,
And then, let it go,
Like you'd release the rope
Around your own neck--
For that is what it is.
Return to yourself.
This time the real you,
Absent the self-indulgent despair
That robs you of the joy
Of being fully human.