Only One

A taxi driver reminded me I was 
mortal. This life is
the only one I’ve ever known 
so it’s easy to forget that
it’s precious.
Abundant but priceless:
the usual rules don’t apply 
when you’re talking about
everything.
 
Superstition sowed the seeds of
solipsism. This life is the only one
I’ve ever known
so it’s hard to think that
it’s not special.
I seek fame for validation
of my divinity,
then reject my grandiosity;
meditate on my mortality. 
 
I fell for the reflection in the
mirror. My image is the
only one I see,
so it’s hard to believe that
it wasn’t meant to be.
Faith in fate brings reassurance
that this narrative 
will end in a blaze of glory:
a hero’s denouement.
 
Rebellion is curbed by
self-consciousness. Being
the only one is lonely,
so it’s easy to see why so few
reach the top.
I idolise the übermensch
but find comfort as the everyman,
succumb to conformity
while aiming for the galaxies.
 
Vicarious voyeurism steers this
vessel. This body is
the only one I’ve ever owned
so it’s hard to shake the feeling that
they’re watching.
We flaunt our peacock feathers,
amplify our sound,
all to attract their gaze,
then hide when our cover is blown.
 
Silent, we float in solitary
space. Connection helps us
remember
that we’re not the only ones
suspended in experience.
Hands outstretched,
we bleed just to make contact,
we martyrs to the solitude,
searching for an end,
searching for more than
only one.

Lens Flare

Looking through the shutter of my mind,
I am the statue in the time-lapse.
The cars blur past me.
The panic rises.
I freeze.

The timer counts down the seconds
of every moment ever precious.
The flashbulb blazes bright
then fades to black.
Say cheese.

Can we call a timeout?
I want to exist in this snapshot a while longer.
Could I be doing more?
Nothing feels like the best thing to do.
Life is full to the brim but it’s passing me by.

How many shots do we get
until we have to admit that it’s over,
that we’ll never get the perfect picture?
Every moment grows ever heavier
as I try to buy more time.

The darkroom down below
prints stills of the regrets
that will adorn the gallery walls
when the shutter closes for the final time,
warning of my future failures.

And in my mind’s eye,
paparazzi cameras point at me:
portals to another reality.
They write my biography
and I read it, I believe it.

With his lens, I imagine
the photographer condemns.
I tell him to stand aside:
I felt what I felt
and nothing has to be justified.

Can we avoid their angles?
I see my image in their mirror.
Can we stand apart but not alone?
I resent the rules of the game they play.
I cut off my nose to spite my face.

Filter set on sepia,
we live in a photo collage
on a timeline in this
thin slice of history
we’ve been apportioned.

All the photographs never taken
for fear of their reception
are burned onto my retina
but still, my finger freezes:
the light is never quite right.

The ticking of the timer
is louder every passing year,
the hourglass emptier,
and I’m still out of frame,
trying to pick a pose.

Will we ever learn our lesson?
The photographer is doomed
and so redeemed
by every scar and mote of dust,
the patina on the bronze bezel,
every sunbeam scattered
across the lens.