Boxed Up

Ever had a ‘friend’? Quotation marks no typo,

Maybe even kinfolk, for some this post drivin’ close to home,

Remaining M.I.A then popping up and catching you unawares,

Not to catch up or spend time, rather, coming at ya armed full of favours,

Might be innocuous, some problems require extra assistance,

But more often than not gotta bail ‘em from sticky situations of their own making,

Such folks never learn their lesson, off they go committing the same stupid errors,

On top of several new vices that will ruin ‘em sooner or later,

Could put your own life or rep at stake should you also get involved,

How you’re affiliated with such folks remains a puzzle unsolved,

Maybe they were different, legit in the very beginning,

Then revealed their true colors once they got real comfortable,

A favour asked here or there, seemed to be the only time they acknowledged your existence,

You gave ‘em an inch then they gave you miles and miles and left your head spinning,

Further requests became elaborate, requiring more of your participation,

Your resources, too, ‘cuz they can’t or won’t bring their loot to the table,

Requests come in droves, if and when they’ll repay you only Lord knows,

Don’t fall for the trap, friend, ain’t your responsibility to clean up after ‘em,

To sign up to be a slave for hire if not a walking financial institution,

Get out at the first signs, why put up with the bullshit?

Fuck living boxed-up unless you’re needed, be with those that make you feel appreciated,

Drop ‘em, leave ‘em, get far away from ‘em, they don’t deserve your time and energy,

Even if y’all go way back or share blood, they’re taking you for granted daily,

Life’s about losses, eventually, everything is temporary,

That includes people, sadly, not all deserve lasting roles in your story,

Selflessness is a virtue, but shouldn’t come at the expense of self-care,

Risking your health and sanity for the fair-weathered, such a deal is unfair,

No need to sever ties with ‘em permanently, if there are bonds worthy of salvage,

Love ‘em from afar, maintain safe and healthy boundaries so they get the message,

Many within your circle, hopefully, are assets through and through,

But be wary of those liabilities, be strong and cut ‘em loose.

You Played Yourself 7: Young And F***in’ Dumb

Sixth grade teacher got the young ones role-playing,

Can’t recall the catalyst but she encouraged students to unleash inner thespians,

Bullying and friendship the topic, up to groups of students how they’ll interpret it,

Never would have thought that it’d lead to one fool’s unravelling,

Wish I could say that this was all fictional, sadly it was very much factual,

One small group playing out a scenario where school bullies troll the new kid with immaturity and gusto,

Script called for the victim to be a foreigner, yeah these boys are dousing a burning blaze with lighter fluid,

But 12-year old minds are prone to risk taking of the silly and comical kind,

The subject of this tale goes the extra mile, using a prop to emphasise his character,

A jar, of all things, the meaning behind it to be revealed a little later,

Borrowed a marker from the teacher, colored red for some reason,

Little detail seemed innocuous but then became shockingly apparent,

Smudged a dot on his forehead, like some sort of struggle bindi,

Confirmed to his cast mates that the jar was supposed to be full of curry,

Put on a fake accent too for good measure, talk about going all in,

The shock on his cast mates’ faces priceless, way to sign his own death warrant,

An outsider from their group within earshot played the snitch, alerted the teacher when they caught a whiff,

Teacher onto that poor fool in an instant, the class falling into awkward and nervous silence,

Dude found himself eviscerated, deservedly, the pre-teen bluster drained from his face,

Could barely look teacher in the eye, hoping that the ground would open up and swallow him alive,

No sympathy for this dumb kid or anyone like him, newsflash, Junior, what you thought was comedy was actually racism,

Cut the excuses, you’re one year shy of teens, you’re old enough to know better,

Your parents should’ve raised you better rather than leaving it all up to the teachers,

Copped a public dressing down in front of your peers, now they’re shaking their heads at you while you stand on the verge of tears,

Slap yourself Kid, that’s what you get, maybe there’ll be hope for you yet,

But for now you need to face facts, the so-called golden goose laid a rotten egg,

No Oscars for you, Kiddo, tried to get ‘em laughing but found yourself cancelled instead,

You played yourself.

Letter To The Champ

It’s been ten years since they dragged you away kicking and screaming,

Glory days long gone, running only on pride, the fuel source burns out fast, the goal plausible only in your mind,

Blocked at every turn, by medics concerned for your well-being, also by fellow competitors reluctant to waste time with old and washed-up has-beens,

It was the end of the road, you were adrift with no final destination, might as well call it quits, defying your heart’s urgings,

Pursued different paths in retirement, took to ‘em like mismatched puzzle pieces, that appetite for combat insatiable, born fighters be restless in times of peace and quiet,

Got various debts, too, to pay off, born out of bad luck and your own misjudgement,

Stuck to you like glue, can’t shake ‘em, not while bereft of your main source of income,

Still getting by anyway, treading water on most days, while time marches on with precious few breaks,

An opportunity of sorts popped up one day, out of the blue,

Whether it was smart or a fool’s errand inconsequential, sounded too good to be true,

A return to the grand stage where you once shone, a chance to turn back the clock,

Maybe to ease your burdens, a chance to overcome life’s stumbling blocks,

But it doesn’t work that way, can’t mask reality with ego and delusion,

Even in an exhibition it was over in less than a minute, with you on the wrong end of it,

Time to walk away, it’s a young man’s game, the ring is no longer your sanctuary,

You’d had your time, been a quarter of a decade now, soldiering on can only lead to catastrophes,

Your name still carries weight, why not explore other ventures? Some of your former peers have done that, life for them as sweet as sugar,

Maybe pass on your craft, to the young’uns that still look up to you, including one of your own, why not be a mentor to whom he can turn to?

Whichever way you go, wish you nothing but the best,

You gave your all to entertain, your legacy shouldn’t end in vain.

Put The Blame On Me

Hey, there, Young’un, what’s the story?

You won’t believe it but you’re the younger version of me,

At present you’re a grown man aged in his 30s,

Travelling back in time bearing overdue apologies,

So here it goes, hope it doesn’t get messy,

Swallowing my pride to be one-hundred temporarily,

Some of what you hear might be hard to take in, but you’ll live it, it’s in the future, so you better be ready,

Sorry for letting you get too lazy, should have forced you outdoors but let you veg out in front the TV,

Sorry for letting you get so out of shape you grew a keg and lil’ titties, a growing boy’s gotta eat but I let you slack off on your extra-curricular activities,

And now the other kids are treating you like a patsy, childish teasing coming from all directions, nooks and crannies,

Sorry that you had to be an oddball with a personality suited for nerds and beings from a different galaxy,

Kids can be so cruel and I exposed you to their brand of immaturity, and I let you take it rather than empower you to clap back with audacity,

If you’d kept up with the swimming and karate who knows where your future might be? Maybe collecting medals or title belts while inspiring kids in the community,

If you’d scratched on your guitar and spent less time gaming you might have penned a hit revered for eternity, but alas it remains a what-if confined deep in the vaults of history.

Fast forward now to your teen years, where your poker face served to hide the anxiety and tears,

The good times minglin’ with combustible memories, even up to now can still make your grown-self cringe,

At 13 you were rockin’, rollin’ and full of beans, a burnt-out shell by the time you’d reached 19,

Fun times and adventures continued with the family while high school troubles beat you down with increasing regularity,

While they were just joking ‘round in elementary here the vitriol had been upped quite significantly, 

I should’ve let you fight back though you were at the mercy of uncaring teachers and the entire student body,

For leaving you to the sharks I can’t offer nothing but an overdue apology, led you to deceitful phoneys that knifed your back before joining those trolling you mercilessly,

Got you fretting over grades and tests and most of all the motherfucking HSC, convinced you that a number on a piece of paper would make or break your destiny,

Despite your best efforts you could only muster B’s and C’s, I should’ve shielded you from those expecting what was beyond the sum of your abilities,

Is it any wonder that the happy kid you used to be became a distant memory? Replaced by a young adult depressed, repressed and mistrusting of everybody,

Emotions bottled up and stored away ‘til the contents done passed their date of expiry, for all the bullshit that you had to run through you can put the blame on me,

For every jerk and fraud that you’d encountered, you can put the blame on me,

For letting needless pressure do your head in, you can put the blame on me,

For rejecting what gen pop dictated to be the norm, you can put the blame on me,

For pushing you to hiding instead of clapping, you can put the blame on me.

Crossing over now to your adult years, namely the minefield that was your early-to-mid twenties,

Still brimming on the outside physically, but on the inside it’s a whole ‘nother story,

Sorry you’d been rendered a disillusioned cynic, thinking that the human race can fuck itself as a species,

Teen angst clinging to you like a blood-sucking leech, got you suspecting and distrusting everybody,

Sorry for not pushing you to fight your inner beasts, stewing in your filth served to make perceived failures a reality,

Others were out making friends, sowing oats and living decadently, good times and memories made while pursuing university degrees,

Such a lifestyle at odds with an anti-social personality, to hell with waking from a stupor damn near on the daily,

But deep down your self-imposed exile low-key left you feeling lonely, how good would it be, maybe, to connect on some level with anybody,

And now you’re looking back with a tinge of regret over how it could have played out differently, and now it’s too late to turn back time, you’ll never get another opportunity,

I forced you to embrace your fear and loathing and so you’d wasted most of your twenties, can’t do nothing now so all that’s left is to say ‘sorry,’

Sorry for not forcing you to plan ahead as a bitty kid, too content living in the moment to engage in serious forward-thinking,

Sorry that you chose to be a creative, where success is not exactly a given guarantee,

Sorry that it took a serious illness for you to gain some clarity, as we shall find out shortly,

But wait, your twenties needn’t end in tragedy, a turning point lay ahead two years after your quarter-century.

Made your way into the Wing Chun Academy, though admittedly apprehensive initially,

Wonderin’ how you’ll do as a grown man and not as lazy, the first extra-curricular since the days of swimmin’ strummin’ and karate,

Turned out to be the tonic that was missing, mentally, physically and even socially,

Bit by bit hacked away at your in-built cloak of invisibility, the chip on your shoulder closing up belatedly,

Finally found friends that were the real deal, no snakes and leeches keeping you alert for signs of disloyalty,

Emerged from your hideout to meet more peeps, forming friendships for the first time in many years,

The hermit that you once were all but a distant memory, it would seem that you’d finally achieved some level of maturity,

Work life looking up for you exponentially, used to fade in the back now you’re taking part willingly,

That it took this long for you to level up I can only say sorry, they say better late than never but you’d been drifting for too long endlessly,

Clearly you weren’t meant to hit your peak way too early, but you hung on and for that you deserve to be rewarded handsomely.

Ups and downs over the next few years, from late twenties and well into your thirties,

Met somebody then befriended her quickly, been accumulating plenty of ‘em lately,

Sorry that I’d led you to believe that something deeper was within the realm of possibilities,

‘Fessed up to her ‘bout your hidden feelings, she knocked you back with no ifs, buts or maybes,

Looks like it just wasn’t meant to be, but credit to you for your courage and honesty,

Then came the serious and unexpected disease, for reasons unexplained foiled by your own immunity,

Faced challenges ranging from the serious to humiliating, your first major test since the psychological horrors from your teens,

Good doctors and the support of your friends and family ensured that you beat this silent tormentor rather easily,

Just as it seemed that all was back on easy street, covid pandemic knocked the whole world loopy,

Wreaking havoc upon society, exposing fools, jerks and scumbags on the daily,

Sorry ‘bout your compromised immunity, you’d had to isolate like a prisoner in solitary,

But at least you were given time to write your story, found your muse through that health battle though it sounds crazy,

But while it seems like lockdown’s treating you kindly, ghosts from the past are pokin’, proddin’, waiting for you to get lazy,

It would seem that after 2020, this older, wiser, friendlier version’s in serious jeopardy,

Been some time since you’d engaged face to face with your buddies, feeling marooned once more like when you were teens and early twenties,

Walking, training and writing keeping you in check mentally, but chinks in the armour are always a possibility,

The spectre of who you once were testing your will and tenacity, comin’ full circle feeling like positive developments were only temporary,

Got you wondering if you were doomed to be a loner for eternity, perhaps this was who you were always meant to be,

The whole world’s hanging in the balance now, as though in a deep, dark and hellish freeze, only time will tell when we’ll finally be free and day by day it’s looking less likely,

‘Til then, Kid, you gotta hang in there, you’ve done it many times it should come to you naturally, gotta keep your head up high, your mind clear as night and fight the temptation to do something silly,

That she didn’t feel the same way, you can blame it on me,

For chasing dreams that may or may not become a reality, you can blame it on me,

For your body’s betrayal despite doing all the right things, you can put the blame on me,

For your continued inability to let people in, you can blame it on me.

Well, there you have it now, Little Kid, what awaits between now and your mid-30s,

Apologies if it roused in you any suspicions and worries, but it need not be all drama and uncertainties,

Ups and downs are a given guarantee, ain’t nobody’s journey ever runs smoothly,

Sorry if it feels like I’d let you be nothing more than the village punching bag and picked-on kid,

Sorry if it feels like I’d left you ill-equipped to handle certain challenges, predators and life’s little quandaries,

Sorry ‘bout the time when you were eighteen, tormented by school, your personal and those fuckin’ bullies,

Everything came crashing down all around it seemed, got you thinking ‘bout checking outta here,

To your credit the moment was merely fleeting, been lurking since but at present you’re still standing,

All up you still have it easy, the school of hard knocks not a part of your itinerary,

Ma and Pa kept you well-provided for and healthy, not everybody are as lucky,

No serious health struggles beyond the one from 2018, from which you bounced back rather quickly,

Had it never happened you may have dropped that teenage dream to be a writer way to turn that curse into a blessing,

And there’s no point wanting to redo anything from a childhood that played out relatively hassle-free, a few hiccups here and there but overall damn near perfect as any childhood can possibly be,

It would have been great to go further in all those extra-curricular activities, but in hindsight you’d probably given them your best shot each, extended spells just weren’t meant to be,

You never had it in you to live hedonistically in your twenties so don’t even waste your energy, you’d have wanted to get the fuck outta there like a bat outta hell, tyres squealing like a banshee,

The struggles that you had faced are still mere child’s play compared to other peoples’ difficulties, could have been much, much worse for you so you better count your blessings while you’re down on your knees,

Why hold onto the shackles of what’s been and done and what might have been, rather than letting go so you can finally live freely?

So much more life for you to live, to carve your legacy, still many more pages before you can claim a thorough victory,

Now you know what lies ahead, your true destiny, keep your head up high but for now I’ll just say that you can blame it on me,

That this ramble was too lengthy, you can blame it on me

For killing the suspense so early, you can blame it on me,

For all the bad shit that lies ahead you can blame it on me,

Should you change the course of history, you’ll have to give thanks to me!