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You never learned it at home,
A soft touch, a gentle reproach.

Instead, you heard the screams,
The insults, felt the slaps and shoves,

Drunk parents, filled with self-hate,
Shared it with their children.

One died of suicide,
The other has threatened to fifty years.

They both drank themselves out of families and marriages,
Lit fires out of friend’s bodies,

Scorched their empty lives.
There’s no fuel left.

Still, the books suggest an escape.
Acting as if you loved yourself.

IT sounds like an affirmation from hell,
Or nonsense sounds from an inhuman language.

You know you can’t beat yourself to reach your goals.
You can’t coerce yourself into getting out of bed.

You know the hatred will never work,
But something deep inside cranks out the poison,

Day after day, night after night.
You think if you die a natural death you will have won,

That staying sober is enough.
Maybe it is.

Every book on meditation has an antidote.
Open your heart, imagine a fire in your soul,

Watch your breathing, be gentle with yourself.
But you lost the instruction booklet,

Let’s face it, you never had it.
You hope the next book—you own over five hundred

Will reveal the magic words,
The gate will spring open,

Spring all around, flowers say hello,
The sky welcomes you

And you forget the curses and resentments
You once felt.

There’s not much time,
But for now, you can welcome your soul back to life,

For the first time,
But that’s enough.

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