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Special | Worthy

The memories come back to him now

of teacher saying you are so special,

all of you, each one of you as unique

as a snowflake and guess what, what

the children holler back from their seats,

you are special boys and girls, so special

and it’s only a matter of time before

the world recognizes how special you are.

At home Johnny hears the same message

on the television, you are so special

Johnny boy, you are one in a trillion,

special as a snowflake, no one is like you,

no one, Johnny boy, no one! In no time

the rest of the world will see you clearly.

What’s wonderful about children is how

they believe whatever they are told, any

old crazy thing can become their reality

and thus the message dwells in his heart

and mind for decades, sprouting as a daisy

until one day John the man is sweeping floors

of a diner when he hears from the corner booth

a boy with his mother, and she says one day

the world will recognize just how special

you are, Billy boy, they will see what I see.

Rage rises up in John’s guts, uncontrollable

hatred for all who poured jugs of sugary lies

down his throat year after year with a smile—

mother, teachers, the furry character on TV—

all who knew he was meant to be a janitor

or an oil rigger or a gas station clerk,

or a man who sweeps up hair and macaroni,

they knew, all along, they knew

and lied to his face to make themselves

feel better in that moment, look at the joy

I bring to Johnny boy’s face each time I say

the word ‘special’ and see the word transform

into a smile, a smile that goes from face to face

until we are all smiling and happy as can be

for a little while.

John the man breaks the broom over his knee

and the diners run for the exits, Billy boy

is rattled no doubt but mother holds him close

while John the man roars like a lion and leaps

through the front window, power unleashed.

If they catch him he will be sedated and jailed

and this cannot happen tonight John, O John

we have talked about this a million times

with ourselves while lying in bed at night

listening to the neighbors hurl shoes at the wall

and scream how much they hate one another,

we’ve had this discussion while being awoken

by sirens in the middle of the night, John

we said when the time came we would not fear,

you can either join the black-masked mob

and burn down the world or go crazy or leave

and thus he rushes to the bridge and climbs

a pillar to look down at the rushing water



there on the bridge is another man with fire

in his eyes who says why have you climbed up

there tonight, John, and what do you seek?

John says I am not special, it was a lie,

all of them lied to make children smile

but no one is smiling in the real world.

The man with fire in his eyes says of course

you are not special and of course they lied,

what will those who do not know teach

those who do not know?

John, my brother, what they did not tell you

is that you are worthy, worthy of the image,

worthy because of the blood that is His blood

running through your heart and your veins,

worthy because of the mind that reflects His

mind, worthy because in you is the forge

that called forth the stars above our heads.

John my brother, you are not special but you

are worthy.


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