the hollow eyes of a woman being
paparazzi-ed and the words of a story
that never came from her pale lips–
the adrenaline of journalists, readers,
throwing money at People–at people,
drinking the fairy tale fabrications up
like cigarette smoke on a gray morning
or liquid caffeine on the night before finals.

how many versions
of you
are out 
there in the world?

eyelids crinkle open and smooth shut,
blinking away hurt when she says
that the girl who was all smiles is
spreading hate over your shoulders;
remembering when you told a
classmate sitting on the cracked
college sidewalk that a boy made
you so angry, but never breathing
anything but kindness to his face.

what will endure–
people themselves

or the stories we tell about them?

I think that there are people
who have ended their lives
because of a story that
was born outside of them, a
tell-tale rumor that lingered
in their lives–like only a cough
or a sniffle but then months
later they were being shocked
back to breathing and then lost
to the dizzying emptiness.
Maybe the story dies then,
or maybe, like a cruel
stabbing pain, it goes
on and on and on
like winter rain that hangs
at the window for days?


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