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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/9/21

Passport photo followed by reflection

Message Gary Lindorff
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Take off your glasses

Don't smile

That's what they told me

When I had my passport photo taken

So I look like a drug smuggler

That's what they want

I look tired and pissed

And a little dangerous

If I was security at an airport

And I saw that face

I would take me aside for questioning

Seriously

A person who looks like that

Might be hiding something

Somewhere

It's in my eyes

That I want to take down the government

Even more seriously

Why do you want me to look like that

On my passport?

Why don't you want me to look

Like I'm having a good day

A good life

Like I'm someone who believes

That we're really here to learn how to love?

Why do you want me to look like

I want to take your head off?

Hand me my glasses young man

Hand me my smile

Hand me my dignity

It's not your fault

It's no one's fault

We're just along for the ride

Only where are we going?

..........

This poem came forth in one piece. No edits. It was just sitting there in the poem ready-room, waiting to be summoned for its mission - to draw attention to the joyless, loveless, soul-less system of ID-ing ourselves that we submit to, just to be able to (drive, travel, or work for a company or corporation) . . . In this poem (which on the surface, seems mostly humorous) I am shining a harsh light on my experience of having my passport photo taken at CVS. The young clerk was nice enough, but he stuck to the book: He actually said, "Don't smile." When I take my glasses off I am like a deer with glaucoma, if there is such a thing. Everything is blurry. (Very bad for the deer.) If I was in a big city I would feel extremely vulnerable without my glasses. (Which makes me feel bad for our homeless people, many of whom [due to natural aging, poor health, bad nutrition, lack of sleep etc.] are probably subsisting in a blurred universe! Hard to imagine what that would feel like, since even with perfect vision they are surrounded by risk and danger 24/7.) So the poem tracks the complex of emotions, or my rapidly darkening / deteriorating state of mind, that I can easily trace in my expression which that seemingly innocuous official snapshot brilliantly captures.

(Article changed on Sep 09, 2021 at 1:29 PM EDT)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)
 

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