Sidewalk Prisoners

We buzz through streets and trains and tunnels and hallways and roads like mad flocks of bees and wasps. We never stop except to drink or eat or pick up more cash or have sex or get drunk.

We read the government propaganda and believe it is there to help us but all it does is suck the life and soul out of our already skin dry bones.

We work long hours—midnights at frazzled desktops, fingers hammering madly at keys and calculators. We let our phones ring for just another minute and hours later we are screaming at our partners and spouses and children and friends. “Where were you?” “This was important.” “You promised.”

“You said things were going to change.”

We make more promises, resolutions—words that we want to believe we will follow through on. But our souls know the words will slip through our grasps like melting candle wax and we will waste away more hours working at that which is sucking us dry.

Sometimes it looks like changes will be made—Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali. We spend precious hours with friends and good company holding chopsticks and plates and champagne glasses and bottles of beer. We take nice family photos and everyone smiles—but the smiles are like masks and underneath we whisper, “Go. Go. Go. Work. Work. Work.”

We wonder how we can manage another long weekend at the office or late night meeting or last minute business trip. We wonder if we are wearing ourselves too thin.

But it stops at the wondering because we are too busy with the doing.

So we keep our heads down and stare at our tiny screens. We don’t see the chain that locks us to our phone or the shackles scarping across the sidewalk as we trudge through the days and nights.

We are sidewalk prisoners.

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