Poor players

Let’s just call it what it is:

small talk and a symbiotic relationship.

You play the part of a friend,

a part once played by a better actor.

At a desperate time, you came along

and you were so like him, it seemed at first,

that I had hope once more for this little production.

And you are like him,

his shadow almost,

a shade changing more with every day

short and long and not at all.

And you are not him,

but what choice do I have?

You talk to me, twisting a knife into my skin,

piercing flesh and bone and marrow

till the tip pricks my heart

and I remember what life is.

And I pay for your services,

feeding your habits.

And I had always thought

I would never buy a drunk a drink.

And yet here I stand, stricken with realization,

while you drown yourself to death

in debauchery.

I think I’m starting to understand:

I don’t have to watch you do this.

I can say my peace and go on my way.

You’re a man.  It’s up to you to choose to follow.

But, no, I don’t have to be an audience,

for the second time,

to a slow, painful demise of another player

on this imperfect stage.

I don’t have to watch you fail to live up to

tasks asked of every actor.

I don’t have to be here when the curtain falls

and instead of applause, there is only pain

for an actor on whom the curtain shall never rise again.

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