Flattery Meant for Someone Else, A Poem by Chris Russell

When the friend inside me asked me today how I was feeling

I told him I was feeling forgotten and moved about simultaneously,

like how I’d imagine a plastic pawn in a game of chess would feel

if it were alive.

I went on to explain that it’s like having an identity that’s not yours

slapped on you before being brainwashed and released into a building

filled with people and things you can’t see yourself playing

Breath of the Wild with.

I guess this is what it feels like to become a kind of everyday cult convert,

you get drugged with flattery meant for someone else, then one day wake up

in an unfamiliar, but relatively pleasant place where the regulars

responsible for your conversion ask you to change into some new clothes

and do some chores that don’t seem like yours to do in order to earn

your keep,

until the day comes that you’re watching your own life and it looks like

it’s a horror movie with subtitles, the you that you really are glinting

like an old recurring dream that you no longer wake up sweating from.

I tell myself I’d give anything to feel like I was in my life again,

to be able to look through the eyes of my original self and know I’m me,

and I know this is just me wanting to feel intrinsically thankful again.

But then I think in my usual bad joke kind of way, that’s easy for you to say,

you’re not the gifted and selfless one without a life. And besides, who

wouldn’t stop wanting to be themselves if it meant they’d be able to write

poetry about being two polar opposite identities at once?

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