Who is Happy?

Who is happy? 

Is the millionaire, alone in his glass mansion, 

Or the destitute, who cannot afford 

His medication? 

Am I to believe the man, who on the bus, 

Told the woman in the wheelchair 

“Homeless are the smartest folks on earth—

I’m happy being homeless,” when on TV

The pastor with the perfect teeth, 

And private jet, and prophesying wife, 

Raised his Rolex-laden arm to tell me

Exactly what to expect, in exchange for my Faith. 

Is it the middle class? 

That melancholy, mediocre middle-ground 

Wallowing in dissatisfaction, 

Always kicking against nothing, but kicking just the same, 

And sleeping worse, and dreaming poorer,

More anxious every day, 

In pursuit of ambitions, like “someday, I’d like to own a boat. 

And drive it to the lake on weekends, with my three friends, 

And have a beer and for an hour or three, 

Maybe enjoy being alive.” 

We’ve forgotten that boats were made 

to bridle oceans, find new worlds, 

With more in common to a spaceship than a jet ski. 

Is it the king? Maddened by power, 

Or the prostitute by lack of it? 

The actor consumed by the role, 

Or the artist—so In touch with what is darkest in him, 

That the only tragedy worth writing is the dash 

Of the pen (a bullet) into the well of his mind—

Tardy Wisemen reading trauma in the blot—

Or the craftsman hard at work, day in, day out, 

Backbone of nations, irrefutable, 

Butt-stock nestled tight to society’s shoulder, 

Color-coded collar-wearers, worn and weathered, 

Or colored people, who can define at least, 

Their place in the struggle to exist, to define existence, 

Or the colorless, feigning color-blindness with ease, 

But actually just blind—

Are you happy? 

Do you find meaning in what you do? 

Does it fill you to the brim with satisfaction, 

That runs down the perfect temple of your body to the floor 

Where people rushing by to catch a train, or the babbling woman

Screaming at nothing, or men who jog and talk 

To phones and never tip, or fearless pigeons, 

Can stomp right through the puddle of your joy—

Splashing up on bus wheels and cuffed pants 

Spraying bicyclists up their thighs—

And track it wherever they go. 

Do you find meaning in who you are? 

In what you’ve done, or what’s been done for you? 

Is there some semblance in your self of worth 

Belying culture, defying minds who try to grapple with 

The weight of the image laid on every one of us. 

Are you happy? 

Do you turn Constantly toward the new outrage,

A weathervane trained to bite the sensational bait, 

The urge to polarize so sewn into our genes, 

Do you scan the skyline constantly for smoke? 

Instead of peering into a sunset so deeply, it stares back? 

Are you scared of what you’ll find if you sit still and silent 

Without headphones to block out the world outside 

Or music to pave over the jungle inside your head,

And one more question, if I may be so bold—

Are you healing? Or are you distracted?

Who is happy? 

Or maybe it’s the pursuit, which is itself so evident

Of this thing, this THING, 

That’s always out of reach—

Is the Pursuit Happiness? Have we traded the prize for the race

And why do we kill ourselves all the time? 

Leaving no stone upon another. 

The world is burning, and in our efforts to stomp it out, 

We track the flames back home. 

So who is happy? 

Well, I am. In spite of myself and in small ways, 

I delight. In moments sometimes few and far between, 

Even though I’m picked apart by doubts, 

Like a skeleton by birds, some days, 

Even though I can’t ride the elevator four floors 

To my apartment without pulling out my phone,

Muting the minute link that still connects

Me to the knowledge of eternity, or void, 

I am grateful to be here. 

To just be here at all, and with you all. 

And worried about so many things, 

But here no less. 

I hope you are too.