By Joseph Hesch
He sees others’ smiles and wonders
what it is they feel, what is the power
that makes their faces bend up so.
He puts himself in
those peoples’ places
but the mirror shows his face is
still hanging lank from
the knots on his brows.
Serious men gave him pills,
and would listen while he talked.
Then he’d nod while they hummed
their impressions of
the cant of a sad loon.
All the while, he listened to other calls
as he lay at the dark bottom
of the guilt-gilded hole in his world.
“Why can’t you be happy?” rang
the painful echoes of all
his life’s disappointed voices.
He would’ve told them he had tried,
but they’d never understand.
Maybe understanding was
his real problem after all:
Maybe what would
make him happy was
what their “happy” is.