Face Lift [poem]

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When that facey slit speads wide from East to West
(it’s called a smile or grin depending on the mood you’re in)
from where, please tell me, does this little gesture come?
What is it makes those stretchy muscles want to move
disclosing teeth or — in some more unseemly cases —
every gross and putrid thing concealed beneath?

The waitress smiles at clients while she fawns upon them
when they make their order from the card but then
the instant that her back is turned the smile dissolves
and then we see upon her face another very different
plain regard. (The bigger the smile the larger the tip).
That’s the big decision which we’re forced to make
each time we smile. How long upon our visage do we
keep that ruddy gash when all the jokes have ceased or
when our fake Falstaffian hilarity has lost its full panache?
Why not smile incessantly as some strange people do
who — having auto-hypnotised themselves — believe
that all is well with everything and all that we should do
is sing and party dance and being in a trance believe that
all the baser things of life (war and conflicts of all kinds
corruption, crime and syndicated masterminds of every
type of stink unparadise) are just illusions brought upon
ourselves through negatively thinking things (and thus
they nimbly wish away our necessary grief and strife).

A baby has been soundly shown to need a smiley face
(it doesn’t matter if it’s only made of wire or reeds) it’s
just the smile it needs to make it feel secure and safe.
A scowly face reduces them to tears and plays upon
their primal fears of deprivation’s cold abandonment.
If babies know that gentleness compassion and an
authenticity of face is body language pattern’s highest
pinnacle of grace how come they grow to lose that
soft façade, becoming two-faced — one side dead
and hard, the other steeped in cool pretence upon
which then we build our grimaceful defences then
transformed to sneering spears and bombs and guns
while chauvinistic ruthlessness [just put a “t” in front
to then complete the word] disguised as altruistic
liberation drools its handshake smiles through the
art of how to winningly beguile a herd of fools.

Just look at DSCH when he stares! That fierce shocking so
unsmiling mouth! He knew the madness lurking well behind
the smiley gloss of politicians’ turgid dross — the games
being played by pundits of both sides. He watched in horror
sadness shock as bosom buddies one by one inevitably
(couragefully) stood up then succumbed to cowardice’s
stealth-by-darkness three ‘o clockish knock. What was there
then to smile about? Hitler, Stalin — names don’t mean a thing.
He knew (like GO) cold grey’s truth that whether coming
from the left or from the right executive power merely means
the power to execute. Unable then to fight he threw his love
for all things good into his music which, if understood, should
rivet us upon the spot and have us standing to attention as we
marvel at his humble honed yurodivy (among us walked
a prodigy) with depth of vision feelings unconfined and passion so
abundantly refined — his symphonies are smiles of another kind.

Smiles (like love itself) have now been so derangely strangely
cheapened that as soon as those red slashy slots are newly
manifested on a face one cannot know for sure if they’ve
been sweetened on the moon or they’re for real. An idle
off-the-cuff ‘Say Cheese’ can make a stupid grin occur; the
salesperson’s marketingful smirk can even make a river full
of toxic waste seem like a good champagne despite the fatal
dangers lurking menacingly there. Plastic smiley-littered letters
showing yellow faces with a ruddy score from one side to the
other now profess to show iconical emotion[‘s cheesy fart]
while sickly sentimentalism moulds and shapes the thoughts
that people feel and show and real emotion’s depth is now
with shame irreverently subdued and then concealed behind
some halitosic breath (which only to the prudent is revealed).

Such a minefield smiles have now become that after years of
watching facial muscles twitch I have devised a simple but
rewarding rule of thumb: To always smile at people who
devote themselves to serving us in roles which may not be
appreciated for their thrills. Examples, those who clean-up toilets,
sweep the streets or blip, blip, blip at supermarket tills. Those who
wait on tables too would fit the bill, a mother struggling with a
pile of kids, those who suck up sewage from our municipal grids
— all those who serve in humble work, who need from people
more than just a smirk. In fact, for anyone who needs a signal
from my face (the whole face, for my eyes are smiling too) I’d
gladly share my laughter, smiles and tears with every lovely you.

© 2012, Alan Morrison

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