Oxygen and Potassium are OK

Tiny pieces of me are all you’ll get to see

because society claims “flawless” is what I’m supposed to be

so you’ll see my polished exterior

you can bet you’ll see my strengths

but it would be crazy for you to see my agony

it would be insane for you to see my rage or to see me disagree

You and me—everybody—are masterpieces but only half of us is showing

we’re only allowed attention if it’s a smile on our face we’re growing

Wait right there. That isn’t what we’re told.

“Be yourself, stand out and be bold”

Yeah those are the words you might be hearing;

if that’s the case you can’t honestly say you’re listening

If you paid attention you’d hear it the way it is

and it goes a little something like this

Be yourself but not too much

because anyone who’s someone other than “just like everyone”

is no one

Anyone who doesn’t fit the mold could spill over

and contaminate the minds around them

So I’ll be myself the way they want me to

I’ll sit pretty and give you a front row view

of my phony confidence, of my artificial bliss

Be yourself

but only nineteen milligrams of your seven gallons of self

because a milligram more might crack a beam in the system

and what are we without our conveyer belts, our beams, and our packagers

who box us up and slam labels on our exteriors

based on what the machine guesses is inside of us

But they’ve got me mixed up

because my label says I’m bleach when that couldn’t be farther from the truth

so by all means be yourself but never more than one one-hundredth of yourself

because we say you’re bleach so by God you had better at least


After all just think how scary it would be for me to simply be me

for dairy to simply be dairy;

instead it’s 1%, it’s 2%, it’s whole.

and it sounds scary I know but I am not me:

I am 1%, 2%, skim maybe but never whole

because that is 98% more of me than I am allowed

I am not a human being with complexities and differences, no

because the machine preaches labels so narrow

and I am defined by

what the machine believes to be inside of me

And the label might believe I am bleach

but the truth of the matter is I am more complex than that

I am carbon and hydrogen; I am oxygen and potassium

yet ironically the last thing I am is OK.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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