It's Not Worth it

It’s not worth it –
all those bruises… careless misuses…the perpetual confusion…of my soul and body;
broken so…and deeply bowed…still not allowed…to truly ever let go;
every refuge I was denied…the tears I might have cried…all left to dry inside –
the abusive tide…. of cruelties I had to abide…to be the one responsible.

It’s not worth it –
the reeling headaches…the feeling deadweight…no line between two points straight;
when to stay alive…I failed, but tried…then to protect, I lied …for innocent and guilty alike;
taught to ignore …the brutal score…whatever went before …and how sore…I really was –
with a game on the line…the worry-wait-and-wonder which went with working to win every time. 

It’s not worth it –
speed shot…knees rotten…nerves clotted;
all gone…to the wrongs inflicted…by my victims…mates… and self;
knuckles broken…muscles stolen…by excessive tokens…of half-considered choices –
the voices that whispered…too much grace under pressure…presages the soul’s slow suicide.

It’s not worth it –
long slumps…contusions, bumps…and the need to jump;
at every whispered word of power…victory…glory…need…mercy…hope…or wealth;
now left to decipher…words of writers…who talk of my career…as if it began this year—
they disregard…every time I starred…’cause I was hard …when I had to be.

It’s not worth it –
the belief and youth… innocence, ignorance and truth…that died in the process of making me;
this justice-cide…was never fair…I took two for every one I gave…and still:
got more than I deserve… so if I must decide…I will…but… for them to hear, not me –

“It’s not worth it,” gasped The Champion.

poem from D.C. metro bus, anonymous, Winter 1981