Fish Hooks in the Corners of Their Mouths

Ah, the...”age old” question.

If you suddenly became Tom Hanks

in one of the movies that he surely has pasted onto his résumé by now,

but you got to take one thing with you,

what personal item would you take?

See, if I understood myself better, I could tell you.

If I was, say, a fisherman,

then I would take a net, a fishing rod, and some bait.

If I was a comedian,

I would tell you that I would bring a boat, some cigars,

and a parasol so that I wouldn’t get too sunburnt on my way home.

If I was a painter...

You get the point, I would do something pertaining to who I was.

But I’m not some stereotype in a poorly written movie

where every single line of dialogue is something

that you have already heard before,

except maybe the setting has changed,

or the color of one scrawny teenager’s shirt has changed

from royal blue to some faded crimson-like color.

I’m not one dimensional.

The words that come out of my mouth are not someone else’s.

Not every single one of my ideals was handed down to me by my parents.

If anything, I am a really long and boring game of Scrabble

that consists of only adjectives.

There are so many things that can describe me

and, depending on who you ask and what I did that day,

there are certain words that are true and certain ones that aren’t,

and I have been trying, for a very long time,

to figure out which ones I want to be correct.

I’m not even sure what that has to do with

what object or idea I would take with me if I became a castaway.

Maybe I’m just trying to dodge the question

like the standard politician who is looked up to

for having all of their morals handed down to them by their parents

and by allowing for all of the words that come out of his or mouth

to either sound like something that someone has already said before,

or things that no sentient being should ever say out loud.

Kind of like dialogue from a poorly written sitcom that’s going to go on

for five or six seasons because everyone has just enough room

in their gullet to stomach more of the same “age old” material.

Different men and women stand in front of the camera,

regardless of their occupation,

and smile like they have fish hooks in the corners of their mouths,

smiling the same semi-forced, elongated smile many people writing poems

like this one would smile if they won this contest,

knowing that $1,000 isn’t going to be enough to fund their college education...

and that’s not this organization’s fault.

See, the government makes money

out of pre-bankrupting my generation,

throwing us out of the nest before we even have gotten a chance to hatch.

See, colleges make money out of charging their students

more for living expenses and tuition

then some people make in an entire year.

What are you supposed to do with the both of the groups

that have the power to fix the problem

are having more fun profiting from the problem

then they would have by actually solving it?

I am eighteen. I have been told that I am no longer a child,

so now I have to start worrying about what the tuition

rising exponentially higher than the rate of inflation

will do to my future children.

The same politicians that smile like the fisherman

stuck fish hooks in the corners of their mouths

collect money from students loans

and don’t put it towards funding education or clean energy,

but are saying that one day we will have a brighter future.

The colors of their neck ties are almost always blue or red

and, at this point, does it even really matter

which one of those colors we hand the keys of government offices?

They are still using the same “age old” material

that they have been using for decades.

Honestly, if I was a castaway,

first I would want to know why I was stuck on the island in the first place.

If only I could just give you and easy answer and say that

I would have a genie in a bottle that would grant me three wishes,

and I would use one of those wishes to find myself,

another to find a way to fix the mess that we find ourselves in,

and the last one to find my way back home.

If only I believed in magic.

Is it possible for me to take Tom Hanks?

I’m pretty sure he knows how to have fun on an island.

Well, maybe I would take a Chinese fiddle.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play a Chinese fiddle.

I've always wanted to morph strings into sounds of triumph and sorrow,

sounds almost as beautiful as the petals that fall off of cherry blossom trees.

But, anyway, um, if I really had to choose,

the one thing I don’t think

that I could live the same way without is my brother.

He is the primary piece of me that

I am not yet ready to throw

to the wolves of the real world,

the wolves that decide whether we succeed or fail.

The wolves that smile with jagged-tooth grins

like they just can't close their jaws.

It’s almost like they have...

like they have

fish the corners...of their mouths.

This poem is about: 
My community
My country


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