Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts,
and laugh with their eyes;
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice block cold eyes
search behind our shadows.
There was a time indeed
they used to shake hands with their hearts;
but that’s gone, son.
Now they left shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.
‘Feel at home!’ ‘Come again’:
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice-
for then I find doors shut on me
So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses – home face,
office face, street face, host face,cocktail face,
with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.
I have also learned to say, ‘Goodbye’,
when I mean ‘Good-riddance’:
to say ‘Glad to meet you’,
without being glad; and to say ‘It’s been
nice talking to you’, after being bored.
But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!
So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.
A Continuation by Niena
Yes papa, you were right, papa
but papa, I’m not worried about that-
about the thing that people do when they pretend all day long
Oh papa, all I want is for people to accept me for who I am
I want them to know that my smiley face means, “I know you”
Smiley face means, “hello, how are you?”
For sometimes papa,it’s easier to just smile
than to say I’m sad, papa
Smiley face is happy face
Smiley face is angry face
Smiley face is bored face
Oh papa, you don’t know how hard it is
when all I want is to lie on my bed
and to stare into empty space
while time flies by all day
Yet people can’t simply understand that
there are people born like that!