are you really so unhappy? when
you roll down your car window
and stick your head out there
are the thoughts of how terrible
it is to be alive? how terrible it
is to taste the wind against your
old tongue? is that where you
sleep? or is it in the gutter of
your anxieties crawling beside
you like an old dog? are you
really so absorbed in the grand
old shit show on the tele-
vision set that you have not
a single extra minute to just
realize how strange it is to
have ten fingers? to have ten
thoughts minimum (at least!)
on any given day? to be able to
sing a song any song any damn
song not good nor bad but
just whatever bird jumps
into the golden cage of your
rusty lungs? do you not see?
do you not see how many
times you’ve cried? both
ends of that salt water ocean
sealed with the bright glaze
of a sun that cares enough
to choose this planet to
glaze for. are you really so
unhappy? are you really
so captured in this jail
cell that you forget to water
the plants on your barred
window seal? and what of
the big apartment cell blocks
forming the paper calendar
hanging behind you? the one
million candles on birth
day cakes blown from
your windstorm lungs
and out flew the ancient
gods out into the ether
out to make plans to
fill you with love or
maybe to break your
heart? and break your
heart and break your
heart and recover you
will my friend. you will
recover. you will reach
into your back pocket
and therein will be a
photograph and a one
dollar bill. now

are you really so unhappy?

you gotta hear me on this
one. there’s a whole
bunch of love out there
waiting patiently to
destroy you. and here
on the inside there is
only you

painfully safe from the
blowing wind.


Author: brice maiurro

Denver poet. Author of Stupid Flowers, out now through Punch Drunk Press.

9 thoughts on “ARE YOU REALLY SO UNHAPPY?”

  1. Quite an interesting, yet disturbing rant. “A whole bunch of love out there waiting patiently to destroy you.” The true definition of “love” never destroys, it only enhances…and if it doesn’t act that way, it definitely was never love in its true form.

    1. It’s possible that my piece failed its goal, but the intent is not to paint love as some terrible thing. That’s silliness. Love is a virtue I hold dearly. What I aim to say with this piece is more about the struggle of life. That there is value in the ups and downs. “There is a whole bunch of love out there waiting patiently to destroy you” is very tongue in cheek. It’s a call to bravery to those who are afraid of love, and an acknowledgement that it’s not always easy.

      1. Sorry that I misinterpreted your poetic endeavor. I took the ‘tongue in cheek’ as a poetic statement. My error!

  2. This is a poem I might have given to my mother when she was my age and I was your age (i’m assuming you’re in your late 20s/early 30s). Now that I’m where she was I understand it’s not so much unhappiness as a feeling of running on empty; a feeling of having been broken; of having nothing left to give; having raged “against the dying of the light” and finding oneself in the darkness, cold in the running sweat. Who knows when the darkness ends? In a way, as far as “bad moods” go, we are all like dogs without a sense of time. It takes as long as it takes. There is no one magic pill or liberating thought. One day all the elements come together and the clouds dissipate — or not, and we die before they do. I’ve seen it happen, lives lived without hopes realized. It’s interesting to note, also, the “masculine”/Western/solar (I have always thought of myself as more masculine than feminine) view that one can just shake it off and keep running like some unstoppable horse; that love and life are compelling in themselves. Well, dear, sweet poet, for some people love is not enough, and there are some things more important than life. I’m not sure what those things are but I was told by a wiser person than I that they exist.

    1. I just want to say I’m not a “shake it off” mentality kind of guy, especially with mental health. I also don’t know that I believe love is enough. I know there’s no magic pill or liberating thought. I just feel a lot was assumed of me. I have never been a “be a man, suck it up” kind of guy. I’m saying stop and smell the roses, if you can’t I’m sorry and I understand it’s not always so easy but I’m not here to shove your head in them and force you to breathe in. You have a right to embrace your misery.

      1. Of course what you say about yourself is true. But I disagree that you aren’t here to shove “my head” in the roses… you have done it many times already, that’s what good poets do. But what I’m offering is the possibility of a different response to your poetic query than “Yes, I am…” or “No, I’m not so unhappy,” and maybe it will give you more fuel in the future. It’s not a matter of “rights to embrace” anything. Sometimes it grabs you and it won’t let go. I know that’s a very uncomfortable and disturbing thought but I’ve seen it happen to people I loved. Sure, you can engage your senses/mind to catch and revel in a moment of happiness or delight. I have them daily — “I’m happy right now” moments. But it never stays; so should we cling to it or try to keep our inner equilibrium and let it pass, appearing to the outer world as emotionless? Try as we might, emotional life is never stagnant until we die. The shutting down of the emotional life comes with age only because the organism has just so much energy to devote to self-preservation. Rights are a human construct based on who’s holding power that nature ultimately ignores; nature/biology trumps everything. We clever monkeys are always trying to get one up on Her but she gets us eventually. La Vie/La Mort.

  3. This is a poem that reminds me of my mother, before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was so often miserable, mean and sad. She is kinder and gentler now.

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