Picture day. Time to pull out all the stops. Spare no expense. Gotta feel all fly and ready for the flashing lights. Done did the fresh line up so I’m ready for my Beyonce. The girl in 5th period math is gonna be looking gorgeous so you know I’m tryna catch her glance. Go to bed early just so I don’t risk bags under my eyes. People will look back 10 years from now in the yearbook and see my whitened smile and favorite shirt. They’ll say “Wow remember him? He had it together. He did this. He did that. I’m sure he’s doing great now blah blah blah you know all that bullshit.

Surface level, I ain’t got no worries. But tweak the lighting, y’all will catch a screenshot of my pain masked by my strained smile and wrinkles around my eyes. Not to mention a couple stains Tide-to-go couldn’t smudge away. Let’s face it. I’m tired. But I can’t let you see that. Struggle is suppose to be a foreign concept. My identity equals the masculine mirage I project. But mirages only exist in the desert wasteland of being materializing the fake version of yourself. I hate letting y’all see what’s behind the scenes. I just want to give people staged photos and snapchats. Not stories and documentaries.

So when I roll up to picture day, please don’t pay attention to my addicted covered, I mean stained covered shirt. And these jeans that are R I P ripped, faded at the knees from all those tearful nights I prayed to God to let this be my final rest in peace. The photographer tells me to look straight  forward, yet how is that possible when the shame of last years one night stands and crushed dreams over shadow future’s hope? I’m sitting on this stool trying to sit up straight despite how much I bend backwards to please people who take advantage of my say-yes-to-every-request mentality and smile as I hold down last nights 12 pack. Don’t tell me to say cheese because that makes me hungry and I loathe thinking about my weight. Oh you don’t have Background D-epression available? I guess we’ll go with Background A – okay cause life is fine just like how all the ladies tell their man after the fellas forget about their anniversary. It’s fine. I’m fine.

3….2….1…Smile! Is what people tell me. HA, that’s the best advice you got? You’re throwing ibuprofen at a broken body. Move along and miss me with that I ain’t sorry. Friends tell me don’t be so quick to mope. I heed their advice, switch it up and write a poem. Do I have to spell out my situation? I’m running out of hope. My church family  tweets “sending thoughts and prayers” from a distance, but my ripped jeans and stains are too complex for most, hard to find a witness. Addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts are stains you just can’t pray and scrub away. Maybe if I end it today I’ll go see the Father. But will he look at me and say “son well done” or will he send me back down because of how messed up I’ve become. I don’t know. No answers in sight. I’ve put up a terrible fight, I’m exhausted of pretending my life is only highlights. God if you really care, make yourself known before this cropped fake photo is next to a urn of my ashes on my parents mantle

It is in the sober surrender of being powerless that a High Powered light glistens over the horizon onto my bodies pains and clothing’s’ stain. The Polaroid of my life develops and is revealed in the red glow. Filters edited out. 4K resolution. No masks. No facades. Just us two now. I prayed. He’s here. Is it too late to take away my prayer cause I don’t know how this is going to end. These faithful stains beckon me to stay in the dark, but this new light invites me to a new space of recovery. This stranger of a hue seems familiar. A presence I’ve never experienced but reminiscent of home. The eagerest of the rays reach my feet and I jerk back. Light’s soothing warmth shock’s my love deprived body. My ears are held by gracious whispers of freedom and serenity. All I desire and all I fear. Freedom is an unknown friend that I’m timid to meet and serenity resides in the land of accepting what I can’t change. Could this really be the clear picture I’ve been yearning for?

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