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  • Writer's picturePaul D. Wilke

3:14 a.m.

We live in a box.

We work in a box.

We stare at a glowing box

all day.

We stare at a glowing box

all night.

Living vicariously,

is not living,

but dying slowly

by killing time.

We choose it.

We chose it.

And so it goes

until they finally

put us in a box.

Only then

would we know,

if we could know,

the most horrible truth:

that it's boxes

all the way down.

Forever and ever.



We think we're free

but we're not.

We're free

to choose

the choices

someone else made

for us.

Coke or Pepsi.

Big Mac or Whopper.

We choose,

but from a menu.

We want choices,

but not too many.

We choose

and call it freedom,

an expression of our uniqueness,

but then blur into the crowd

and look like everyone else,

wearing the same shit,

eating the same food,

just like everyone else.

Each so gray and opaque,

yet looking for a rainbow,

just like everyone else.

Funny how so much choice

bends us back to bland,

like department store mannequins,

instead of sentient beings.

All that effort to stand out

only to blend in.

Not a herd but a hive.

It's comforting, actually,

when you know

what you are not

and accept it with a smile.

Now that we have that

out of the way,

choose again.


We are happy because

we're supposed to be happy.

Everyone is happy

and we take happy pills

and read happy books

and listen to happy songs

telling us how to be happy.

So happy!

I'm happy!

Now repeat

until you believe it.

Happy is another choice

that's not a choice,

but something




It's a lie

and we need

everyone in on it.

After all,

we prefer

the opiate

of Disneyland

or TV land,

not the naked truth

of the nursing home,

or the cemetery,

for such truths

do not set one free,

but wither the self

with the truth

of what will,


for all, be.

The Cult of Sunshine

knows this

deep down,

as the sunny smile

slips into a


that the masquerade

is just that.

But only alone,

in the dark,

at 3 a.m.,

is such honesty



A little authenticity,

the only authenticity

we mannequins get,

alone in our boxes,

all the way down.

Forever and ever.



Brasilia, Brazil

October 2017

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