pity vs. love

you tried so hard
to play upon my pity
tonight, but it didn’t
work. I think I
may have finally learned
the difference between empathy,
hyper-responsibility, and love.
I felt an echo of sadness ring
inside me like a distant bell
at the thought of your
loneliness, but it no longer
has the power
to make me believe that I
need to be the one
who has to step up
to save you from yourself.

you texted me at midnight –
right before I left
the very bar where
you made your appeal –
and when I saw it, I had
to laugh. I had forgotten that
your number is still labeled
"fuckface" in my phone,
so I will never forget
that awful time
you sent that vicious text
after we fought so bitterly
on New Year’s Day, the fateful
text that utterly destroyed
all my feelings and hopes.

I can write in perfect
freedom, knowing
you’ll never
read this. I used to
send you songs
that I had done.
you very rarely
listened to them. I
asked why not once
and said "if you really
liked me, you’d listen
to my stuff" and you
replied, "well, I guess
I don’t really like you,

so no, your loneliness
is not my problem. it never really
was, though I took it on
and did my best to ease it, but
you wouldn’t even let me.

sorry not sorry
that I’m no longer willing
to sacrifice my self-esteem
for the crumbs of your affection
you begrudgingly offer
when you have no one else
to cling to.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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