Poem of the Week: “See, I Can Do It Too”

This poem sat on my computer in various scraps for years. It started out bitter and detached but became inspirational… I think.

Maybe it’s still scraps. But I feel like it works.

See I Can Do it 2

See, I Can Do It Too

 

Beauty is a cold war

 

of cold creams and old dreams.

We’re in an arms race of allurement,

knee-deep in Vaseline and expectations,

dangling a lit match and whispering

you get indifferent first.

 

So no self-effacing, a selfie facing

those well-strung masks.

We can adopt Comedy, poise paralytic:

every post a pick-me-up,

every Snap a sell,

thumbs covering

the drunken nights and irreverent fetishes

so no one can confuse our appearance with our images.

Or, Tragic, revel in dishevelment,

photos filtered but cigarettes not,

for sadness the brand: Preaching peak minimum,

swaddled in ripped jeans, flannel,

and hashtag security blankets

knit in pocket supercomputers.

But either way,

 

fame is cheap.

 

Inflation does that.

It takes lots of work

to be concertedly ignored, or stir guilt

when glossed over.

Caked in Adobe clay, some wait

for the reblog of a lifetime,

the intentional accident,

the headshot launched, Voyager-like,

that’ll unlock their day job,

riding a stream of unconsciousness.

 

And the hope grows but flickers:

batting at shadows, Plato’s Allegory

of the gravely misjudged chances.

Freak flags lower to half mast.

 

But if the internet’s a big sweets machine,

I’d rather be a cake than a cog.

When it comes to popularity, I’m ashamed

to say I’m shameless—Better hell in the Top 40

than heaven with Pitchfork.

So I follow

models, vloggers, icons, artists,

and tell myself I’m a conscientious objectifier:

ready to Like unto others

as they Heart unto me.

 

But at the end of the day,

you’re still only ones and zeroes in my screens,

if not for minds then behinds,

set to amuse on the pot or the bus,

or when my desktop’s froze up,

en route to real life.

Pitch a show, rock a suit, tell a joke—

it’s all been done before,

there’s just quicker memes and more greenscreens now.

And it goes to show how

 

love is contagious,

 

not airborne.

The admiration to spur a fan page rampage;

to call a dox or charity drive with equal ease;

to lob a line or look into a crowd and have catchphrases

echo back at you like grenades full of validation.

And every comments section squabble, an exercise

in mutually assured instruction:

Pity or competition.

Learn your place or take his.

 

I’ve stared at UFOs less spellbound

than those accounts.

Beauty? Fame? Love?

What’s it take,

what strand to grasp

to untie this Gordian knot

or simply cut and run?

I could be you if I wanted to

the sloth’s refrain.

But the truth remains:

 

Bodies can be airbrushed,

voices autotuned,

words ghostwritten,

fashion provided,

and pasts smoothed over.

 

You’re known?

Good for you.

Address to the electric ether

or a mirror, depending

on my motivation.

Because I tell myself

 

it’s all about who you know.

 

Which means it’s all about who

you have the luck to be born of

 

or, just maybe,

the courage to call.

 

 

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