Photograph (1958)

We were happy with unhappiness.
Wearing our daily scowls.
Top hats held close to the heart.
3, 2, 1—Explosion
of bulbs. Who could have believed
that such light wouldn’t steal one’s soul?
To smile was to provoke the Lord of Light.
Besides, isn’t the ultimate, lasting memory
of life that permanent, everyday sun
in the warless pages of history?
Happiness a mere welcome aberration?
Now, the couple at the next table
smiles for a photo, then returns
to the disappointing Carbonara—mascot
of their relationship. A different name for that,
please. That unquiet, white-toothed happiness
we kneel down and pray to
when we are most unhappy. Alcoholism
of smiles. Psychic sugar we’ve invented
in the deep coffee cup of existence.
On the count of three, they say.
1, 2, 3—Bulbs gone. No true climax.
Only a shutter. And the world’s shortest song
bearing all the gifts of forgetfulness.

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