They are perched on the same corner, everyday. A monotonous ritual, eating up the hours with raucous trash-talking and exaggerative fanfare. Their laughter recedes, they shoot glances my way, as I stroll down the block. I am a visual snack with an incendiary scowl. Street-smart toughness. I feel my insides twist into a knot. Commentary spreads like wildfire, dispensers of verbal sewage. Am I on display for your judgment? They consume me with their eyes as I shoot daggers with mine.
I catch snippets of conversation, an invasion of my battle worn mental abyss. Their mouths keep spewing venom. Just because they can. They are impervious to my personal darkness. My heart ignites with fury, as I continue walking down the street, and I become a fiery flame merging with the scorching sun baking into the concrete. I watch my shadow to make sure no one is following.
I breathe life into the lies I tell myself to get by. Unable to blend into these avenues of charades, where everyone is wearing ill-fitted costumes. My faux composure is slipping. Censoring thoughts fueled by fear and uncertainty. Dissembling my idiosyncrasies one quirk at a time. But I can not feign ignorance. Perhaps I am extraterrestrial.
I forget the myths of society. When your peers think for you and media dictates your truth. And I start to believe that my unpleasant thoughts are the new normality.
I hear them out there saying “It’s all changing”, yet they defy awareness.
They fight against their brothers and sisters, their own people, in their own neighborhoods.
No longer human. They become reaction machines with abrasive circuitry.
They villify their tribes. Accusatory labeling.
“You aren’t (insert race) enough”.
“You aren’t (insert gender) enough”.
“You aren’t (insert religion) enough”.
As they are mindlessly immersed in those little screens peering into other worlds, refusing to understand the real disorder of the masses. They become prisoners locked in cages, harboring narcissistic perspectives, creating a paradise of tragedy.
Caught in a oppressive frenzy, worshipping reigning fictional idols of success.
We have no natural predators, so humans become the predator. Breeding dissension in our people. And no one feels safe.
As a man walking down those streets, you are sized up. They are trying to figure out what you are doing there. They don’t want to know what you’re really about. As a woman, there is no respect. You are an object. An easy target.
Dull minds and idle bodies, deprived of knowledge. Projects fear and prejudice.
Our anger is mis-directed. Pride is misguided.
Acceptance, tolerance, discipline, our teachable spirit, goes up in a blazing inferno and the self-righteous dance around it.
I want to scream “Manage your suffering. Your real adversary”.
Yet I lose my enchantment for hope, as the city is painted in sepia tone and swallows it’s crumbling dust.