Periodically, I've wanted to extend my youth, / When all the magic seemed to lose its spark,

Photo by Jakub Skafiriak / Unsplash

by J.R. Banner

Periodically, I've wanted to extend my youth,
When all the magic seemed to lose its spark,
And nothing maintained that childlike luster.
Everything around me grew up: big and suffocating
Towering over my soul.
Catching the dust from the industrial waste
Of adult responsibilities and relationships that
Tainted what was left of my innocence.
Saturating the thoughts of that lost little boy
With more darkness
And depth
Until even the angels looked the other way
Out of shame.
I ponder that complexity even today,
With my watch face telling me I'm late,
And my desk telling me that I'm busy.
Yes, I've wanted so badly to turn back the hands of time,
When all I wanted was to be an adult,
Because all of the adults were free,
But, in reality, their ignorance hid their chains.
Their words hid their hypocrisy,
Nothing was beautiful
And everything hurt.
But, true to Barrie's parable,
Never growing up is itself a trap,
Perhaps more honeyed than the alternative,
But nevertheless, to be avoided.
So here I am, at this strange
New crossroads,
With nothing left to bargain with,
And nothing much to lose.
I wonder if when this mist lifts I'll see
A possible future, way off in the distance.
When to be free is not
To be old or young, or any such pretenses,
But to be brave, or kind, or honest instead,
Or just, quite simply, to be me.

J.R. Barner is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Athens, Georgia. They are the author of the chapbooks Burnt Out Stars and Thirteen Poems and their forthcoming first collection, Little Eulogies. They were educated at the University of Minnesota and the University of Georgia. Their work has appeared in online and print magazines and journals Flow, ONEART, Suburban Witchcraft, and Impspired. New work is available periodically at