Are You Listening?

You walk into that new shop on the corner. You've never seen it before. It's inviting store windows and beautiful exterior pull you inside. What are they selling?


"How much for this word?" you ask. 
"well" says the cashier. "All the words are free, but the value comes in how you use them."
"I don't understand," you say. "How do I use this one?" You hold up the word 'love'.
"Be careful with that one. It's special." says the cashier.
"How many do you have in stock?" you ask.
"Infinite." says the cashier.
You look at him quite confused now, wondering why it's so special if they're all free and there are infinite amounts of them.
"The more you use the words the less valuable they become."
You give him a very puzzled look and begin backing away to the door. 
"Where are you going?" he asks. "This is all yours. This whole store is full of your words."
"Just mine?" you ask.
He nods. 
"What about your words?" you ask. "Where are they?"
"Oh," he says. "You don't want any of those." 
He looks down as if he is studying the back of his hand, his eyes seem to glaze in thought.
"Maybe I do. May I see them?" you ask.
then he tells you, "My words are like an old worn out pair of shoes, my words have walked many miles but have been barely noticed, only to wash up onto a beach somewhere and be found a child and a mother telling them not to play with the garbage. I could be screaming the words and it would sound like a whisper, but even a whisper is noticed and told to hush by adults. Whispers float through hallways but are always paid attention to, regardless of their value, but my words are the cold, dead, silence of an empty house and the bottom of a swimming pool."

Unsure of what to say, you give him a sympathetic glance, "I'm sorry."
but right as you say it the words skid off the shelf and shatter onto the floor, and every lie you've ever told piles on top of it, and you realize you are no better than you neighbor, yet--

You try to help him pick up the pieces. 
"Leave it," he says. "I thought you were different."
You wonder what it is you did wrong, so you decide to leave. Just as you're about go, he turns ask you something this time. 

"Can you hear me?
I'm talking.

Are you listening?"

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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