I am empty
I have been empty for weeks now.
Is it because I have stopped writing?
Or have I stopped writing because I am empty?
So why do I feel
I must prove it to you?
Because there’s nothing in me
I will tell you about someone I knew
From a distance.
She wasn’t particularly pretty
But you never realized it
Because she had charisma.
A smile you were proud to earn
Bright intelligent eyes
She would decorate the office
Her own, or the common areas
Leaving little pieces of her personality
For you to encounter and delight in.
She could cook food like no one else
And she was good at her job, too.
She fixed your problems without trouble.
She was a bit of gossip
I don’t think she even had a very tender heart
So what was it about her
That fascinated us?
I’ve been trying for years to understand charisma
The it factor
Something to do with being who you are
Something to do with purity
Something to do with confidence.
There are things which defy definition.
There are people who, when described,
Yet if you meet them
You count yourself lucky for having had the experience.
And if they asked you
You would follow them
Without knowing why.
This woman, she retired.
She doesn’t keep in touch
She doesn’t attend functions anymore
She has faded out of casual conversation.
We were never really friends.
But every Halloween and every Christmas
Some of her decorations make it back into circulation
Sometimes one of the long-time staff mentions her fondly
She was popular
Though she is out of my life in almost every sphere
She lingers in my memory
A bright fingerprint on my brain
Unique to her own face and voice and charm.
I didn’t need her, I don’t miss her.
She has made an impact nonetheless.
That is charisma.
That is how
I fail to define it.
every person is a joy
…to varying degrees
Contrary to my reputation, I am actually very likable.
Every day when she comes in she does a new hat trick
In an effort to make the receptionist smile
All tricks are met with stony faces
The tricks get more and more extravagant
She acquires a cane
She throws ten, twenty feet high
She draws a few spectators, regulars every morning to watch the trick
But never does she draw a smile from her target
One day she doesn’t come in
Another second day passes, she won’t answer the phone
They call the police
Who break in to find her
Two days dead.
When the receptionist hears,
All she has to say is
“I knew she was fucking crazy.”
people can smell desperation.
being social animals,
they pass the desperate by
sniffing in fear
this one has been cut off for some reason
a rotting limb
a toxic trash.
the desperate can be found
in the heart of the city
the pulsing downtown.
wherever people collect
so the desperate are drawn
driven to suck what they crave.
what society will not give freely
in the center of things,
yet humanity flows around them,
unwilling to touch.
in the center of things,
forever on the fringe.
for fear of exclusion.
because everyone knows
the stink of desperation
Humans shine brightest under pressure.
It’s not until we have a deadline
That we pick up our feet
It’s not until we get cancer
That we start to live
When the world is on the brink of dying
When the atmosphere is choking us
When the plants wither
When disease blooms
When we are all facing starvation
Then we will rediscover world peace
And the meaning of community.
We will see our clear place in the world
Through dying eyes.
Perspective will heal our greed
For one last generation.
I met a boy who’d been in a car accident
Part of his face was missing
He had one good eye.
This eye was pure warm brown
Set in a warped visage.
He worked with animals.
He remembered me when I came into the shop.
A sweet kid.
Knocked around by life
His damage exposed to any cruel scrutiny.
But if he didn’t have those scars
I never would have remembered
That perfect, bottomless shade of chestnut
All his clear bright youth
Welling from within.
Whereas others diffuse their energy
Softly illuminating their many beauties
His beauty was focused, a point of hard light
Shining against a grim backdrop of battered sadness
In stunning contrast.