We, Projections

By Seth Pierce

a person's arm raises a megaphone into the gray city sky

(This poem contains reference to self-harm.)

Mr. and Mrs. Mad’s
Malcontent attitude is a lucid illusion of personal contempt
A cover-up to an elusive getaway for attention
Playing into the conviction of self-deprivation

Starving hot-cold souls of artists and philosophers refusing to share anything but pain, 
In order to gain anything but gas for humanity, 
Shining with the sunny times news, reporting hate mongering to brutes

Eating up social feeds and ATM fees like good boys and girls 
Years become credits, paying out pretend lives on plastic cards 

Stoned stone calligraphers spray-paint the words, 
On walls of buildings where government workers assemble in congressional order 
Sadly, by pushing against the system, the system pushes them out of society 

Bitter half-timers already choked up on the smoke billowing out of churches 
From the friction of bible-thumping lunatics turning pages faster than their preacher can spit 
“Hellfire and brimstone” like the fury of Heaven reigning down upon them from the witless suit of shit standing at the pulpit
Smoke into their cotton filters and gulp the drab pulp each other blab, and don’t even quit to

Disgruntled, book-smart college students in allegiance with anti-action unions 
Lock arms and march with megaphones down any main street they can loiter on 
To yell out their frustrations at passersby and the rest of the world
Demanding it change itself to better fit their loftily unkempt ideals
United uprisings untying the knots of nature tied by man’s own ironclad, working-class hands

Geriatric’s generations agape with gestation, spilling coffee and LSD on their sleeves, 
Try not to fall asleep before supper but wonder how they got here
Ragtime ruffians sit at their computers writing love stories and sad and angry poems 
About outer-space-stretched madness and hipster chicks
About gallivanting in wartime with horror rhymes, and tips to disco kicks

Jive scribes tag lyrics to trash can fires about hard times and rich, old housewives
Gutter geniuses harmonize with mice under a newspaper blanket about cherished past lives
Jibber-jabbering prats cock one crazy eye as the other stays lazy
While they remix their second-hand homemade street stew behind fine diners serving delicate dishes made for two
One rule: don’t question what’s in the soup

Generational delinquents outsourcing their problems to the same countries that make their 
Computers, cars, clothes, coffee, condoms, crayons, crack, and coal,
And most everything but their favorite TV shows, and even some of those

Drunken has-beens wishing they were old already, brooding previous mistakes of life passed by
Instead of experiencing young to the fullest fun, finding out what might become if they too weren’t too busy being so dumb
Dreading the present state they’ve put themselves in and leaving themselves there for what’s to come

All these chewed on, soggy-brained, cracked up pieces to the same puzzle
Jigsaw through dwindling days gone, blown out the chimney lung on smoky, murky nights
Making up stories about one another

Every lover and destructor, sitting rooms away from each other, write down the same ole words as before
Something along the lines of: loving, leaving, wanting, deceiving, drying up and dying out like the stub of a candle
Something to the effect of: eerily repeating–hating, berating, complaining, missing, wishing, dreaming
Drowning in bathtubs of self-sustained sorrow

Hapless campers on islands of trash and human refuse, heaping mouthfuls of dribbling shit onto silver platters and calling it communion, to feed their whimpering kids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Stuck in front of the teleprompt-babysitter-tube teaching them how to price grocery items
And what simply swell families are like, but not theirs
While mom ‘n’ pop are out at the slots stocking up on double-plays and sticker-priced drink trays
This is the future you have to look forward to, so here’s lookin’ at you kid

Penniless dreamers asleep on the job, missing the grand opening of their so wide-open eyes
Feet wisely in the clouds and their heads taking up space among the stars 
Walking along the boardwalk with a permanent pink fuzz in front of their face
Holding a cotton candy umbrella to protect them from the acid rain
Unbeknownst of anything real that might sting a little, with the chance it could actually heal
And wake them from their self-induced coma of irrational fear

Up and down, in and out, we live our lives paralyzed, waiting in lines
And in elevators that get us high as can be and lower than six feet deep
Always in a rush, forgetting everything we need, except that we need to hurry 
Because god forbid we don’t show up to nowhere in particular on time
Sweating through our suede shoes and silk blouses like minute bandits
Stealing those precious gems from no one but ourselves
Baring grueling grins, destined to flee and fade into shadows of the wind

Vomiting up backbones that we can’t weep keeps our bellies empty and our weak conscience sicker than sweet
So where do we go when we don’t leave 
And what happens if we see a mirror laughing at us behind our backs
Smash that son of a bitch and hide our limp as we walk away with a bloody nose and fat lip
Because fuck anyone who thinks they know better than drainpipe dwellers living on scraps, 
Scraping pennies and nickels together to splurge on a dime sack

To live in paradise would be to live with a simple peace of mind no matter where we be
This big polly-pocket-pop-up world with polygon faces shrinks down into individual sized, personally fucked up lives
And it all could easily melt away and smell of rotten turd, and burnt hair chemicals 
From the flames the tip of my pen emits under pressure
Like an impure priest pleading for penance

Cool calico alley cats, wearing rose-shaded glasses, cutting ourselves and watching our bodies bleed
Merely because we like getting wet
We’re used to seeing red
Yet God must be the color of money
For we worship only what we long for
Until we have enough… and more… and more
We treat ourselves like rare commodities we found in the exotic pile at the public garbage dump

Sarcastic cynics criticize every trivial detail and the way the sun turns
Slipping cyanide into your drink then berating your dead body for not finishing the glass
Critique comes promptly on time for those who are late
Sinful saints punishing themselves with the punitive penance of a masochistic priest
Through his long-standing starvation he feeds himself only lashes with the bullwhip
Thank you, lord may I have another
Suffering for unforgivable deeds done by others long forgiven 
In vain his efforts are viewed as petulant, but he holds back his cries as he strains to stay on the straight and narrow 
Liars of truth and prophesiers of rubbish
Rabbis, racketeers and profiteers, coat hangers and sandwich makers, 
All standing uncomfortably close as stacked cups can be 
On mantles, spotlighted before jar-headed herders, judges and sickened sinners, 
Brick layers, candlestick makers, taxi drivers, frequent fliers, and unicycle riders, 
All just here to watch the grand show
Most don’t even know they’re all part of it too
They would just as soon pay more attention to the untied lace on their left shoe than think,
Even for a second, at least to realize, I am talking about me and you
You and I
We are the magpies flying after the apples in the orchard
We are the farmers with guns and shovels running in circles, chasing us round and round 
Gunning ourselves down to cook for supper on Sunday afternoon

While the rest of us peons bow to icons for eons 
Planting our infestation
To find zion amongst this Babylonian plantation on the surface of this cosmic crustacean
Saying prayers for our fallen and lighting a candle before blowing it out like a birthday cake
We are whispers of wind escaping through the cracks under a single pane of glass
As we sit and watch ourselves slip away
Wishing our will had a voice that would speak up for itself and stop us

Indefinitely, we slip and slide, stumble all over our honor and smudge our morals
Hell, at this point we might as well piss our pants on our ethics too

These sandpaper hands and desert floor feet belong to wrinkled faces that have seen time 
Disappear without ever saying goodbye

Disheartened or hardened, sad and sappy, or molded and foggy
We all end up in the same place at the end
Doing the same thing we were yesterday the year before
But at least we’re all here together

What else need I say, if I say more?
When tomorrow comes, if we wake, nothing need change and we can still be doing okay

For what are we really but mere versions of each other separated by us to form a singular I?
Stained as glass on our fragile door
That we wish we could keep locked forevermore
Never to open the pages of our book
Thinking empty thoughts so we need write nothing in our lives
But what happens when we realize what we’ve already known for so long? 
That we’re going to miss it when it’s gone
And now we can only wish to have done things differently 
Like versions of our formally former selves, slaves to the paradox that is our past 
Retreat into hiding like moles from the sun
Back underground where it’s dark and glum 
We go where no one else can know 
Until the rain comes and washes over our homes 
Until we return from our antisocial retirement 
Refreshingly anew, spiritually renewed 
So we can enjoy seeing the sun again 
Scowls and frowns replaced with warm smiles of serenity on our faces 
And finally, with a deep breath of thanks for our greatness, fear can be replaced by love 

Category: Featured, Poetry