Healthy Smiths

Every few months my friend and I get together
to talk about “what we’re doing” vis-à-vis
“the perceived goal of our dual attempt
to become masters of wordsmithing
in the face of insurmountable opposition.”
This is what I’m doing, we say,
compared to this person we don’t know
who does something similar
and is wildly more successful than us.
Powdered lips and lip powder
are quite the opposite
to anyone who’s ever powdered their lips
or shaved flakes off of their lips
in that great and violent kitchen of our beings.
Is it true, we wonder. Are our life-fates locked
aside from random pratfall, victim
of crime or illness? In twenty years
you’ll look back at this moment and go,
“whoa, weird,” but you’ll feel the same way
you feel now as you stare into the crisp,
dark city and say to yourself,
“whoa, weird.” I’m just trying
to get through this like the rest of us,
you used to think, with dextrose, maltodextrin,
malic acid, calcium stearate, carnauba wax,
blue 2, red 40, yellow 5,
less than 2% corn syrup and possibly egg
on my tongue. Who knows what could happen
to my lips. They could be powdered, shaved,
or ripped completely off my face
in one, impressive motion.




Copyright @ 2014 by Jason Bredle. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 28, 2014.

About this Poem

"This was the first poem I wrote after the birth of my son, tumbling out of me late one night while returning from a friend's house in Pilsen at a point when I was unsure if I'd even write again. I had this great sense of excitement and anticipation for all the possible good that could come from his life, but also a sense of dread that his life would be riddled with the tedious, unnecessary and painstaking obstacles that have dominated my own. The only apropos reaction at the time seemed to be, 'whoa, weird.' We're at the mercy of a cruel, arbitrary world, and all we can do is hope it works out."

—Jason Bredle