Justified Espresso

Out on a walk
a lovely morning
before the sun burns out
the marine layer
pleasant breeze
scent of blossoms on it
a spring in my step
I stroll along the pavement
content and carefree
until
and it always gets me
other people
no matter who
beautiful young woman in a summer dress
crusty old hobo sucking desperate cigarettes
the reaction is the same
sweat pricks my skin
pace slows
eyes size up potential weapons
paths of flight
please, turn up a driveway
get into a car
don’t make us cross paths
the inevitable happens
someone must initiate
voice croaking from disuse
I say, “Hello,” or some such
and for the other
it’s nothing
an encounter of zero consequence
but that single word
resounds around the bends and ways of my brain
it echoes
in all its detail
pronunciation, inflection, volume
I hate how I said it
“hello, hello, hello”
I think over and over again
dissatisfied
knowing how I’ve been judged
by that tone in my voice
all these horrible people
expecting greetings
social animals vocalizing benevolence
but underneath it
is the reason it’s there
manners and etiquette
icing on a shit biscuit
fuck why’d I ever leave the house
there’s no such thing
as contentment on a lovely morning
the lies I tell myself
to make going out for a cup of coffee worthwhile
are complicated and many

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