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They don’t want to by Alex McMillan

They don’t want to

None of the things they told me
Would make me happy
Ever did

Going to school
Not talking back
Fasting for lent, being
An altar boy in church
Joining a football team
Always being honest
Respecting my elders
Keeping my head down
Working hard
Paying my debts, trying
To get good grades
University, shame
Admitting my fear.

Then the other ones told me
The other things, which
Sounded
Good
Though wasn’t

Having sex with strangers, smoking
Taking pills and
Cocaine, being
Penniless, clubbing
Meeting lots of people all the time
Talking girls into
Caring, not
Caring, getting
Wasted all the time
Fighting
Drinking games, going
To parties, new
Music, gyms,
Protests, indie films
Magic mushrooms

But now, quietly
A glass of wine or
A few beers a
Book, a little music,
Relaxing, reading
Reading
Reading, letting it
Go, a notebook,
A pen, sometimes
A little face, a little
Poem.

I try and tell them
Some of them, they don’t
Listen, then need to move
Move
Move, and I realised
They don’t
Get
It
They don’t want to
They need the
Fear, the
Shame, the
Guilt
They bought it all between
Those first and
Second advice
Givers. It’s too much for
Them to realise
It isn’t real.

They don’t want to
Be happy. They want to
Find some new idea
Of what happiness is.
And so they chase
Chase
Chase, and
Aren’t
Happy.

Alex McMillan lives and teaches in Lima, Peru. When not teaching he reads and writes poetry.”

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