THE ART OF SOCIAL GATHERINGS
Calm and pleasant on the surface,
Smiling as I watch you pass,
I’ll ask you how your life is going,
Join the toasting, raise my glass.
Meet and mingle, small talk making,
I can party like the rest.
You walk by a second time—
You’ve never seen me at my best.
Don’t be fooled by my bright smile.
Don’t submit to charm and wit.
Underneath this glam facade,
I’m under-drawn and poorly lit.
Just another sketch book scribble,
Penciled in with time to spare.
Edges smudged and details missing,
Fragile. Handle, please, with care.
Lift me from this gilded frame,
Remove the ever-present glass.
I crumple under my own weight.
My truth exposed while strangers laugh.
Fading lines crisscross the surface,
A girl erased by her own tears.
I’ll ask you how my life is going
Even as it disappears.
Music swells as curtain rises,
Stage is bare, not one seat filled.
Lights are up, so no surprises.
Air is thick with phantoms, chilled.
I can hear him dancing closer,
Boogie-man from ‘neath my bed,
Tapping toes and twirling tailcoat,
Top hat square on balding head.
He glides across the polished floorboards,
Pulling spotlights as he goes.
Tapping, twirling, pounding rhythms,
He owns the stage—he wrote the show.
I can’t move, can’t hide, can’t cry out.
Soon the spotlight finds my shame.
The absent audience laughs loudly;
Hecklers hoot and yell my name.
On he dances, never stopping.
The empty air rings with applause.
Naked stand I, silent partner.
The dance continues without pause.
Boogie-man, toe tapping monster,
Tap dance bogey, loosed from hell,
Drop the curtain, kill the lights,
And free me from your hateful spell.