I wish you’d asked me why I chose a childhood

photo of myself smiling to place beside my bed.

I would have told you something halfway intelligent

like it’s to remind myself I can still have some innocence

even if I need a little illusion to help me get there.

The truth is I refuse to grow up

and that I’ve stumbled across decades stuttering

into middle age,

only to learn happiness isn’t a point of view,

that it’s something I can’t put in a frame.

Happiness doesn’t rise out of memory

and it isn’t something I can see with a telescope

that’ll always remind me of what I can’t touch.

You can fondle your beard until it licks your face,

and I can’t see through your certainty

even though I pretend to,

but that kid in the picture by the bed isn’t here anymore,

and that’s why his picture is beside the bed.