Make Yourself Happy

by Eleni Sikelianos

illustrator Guglielmo Castelli

Issue VIII

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You walk into the sunlight
to make yourself happy.
This is the poem that will tell you
how to live.
It’s set in Paris, so
you’ll eat a croissant
to make yourself happy.

Here, we utter hexameters rarely.

We do confuse what is a command and what
a prayer
statement and threat, question
and answer.

Animals utter indivisible sounds so often
but Aristotle does not call any of them
a letter.  Still, an
animal sound will
make yourself happy.  Listen to this
kitten.  We can call its noises an alphabet without confusion.

And here, you cannot be maimed by the muses.

See leaves in the gutters and salted butter that stands in a bright
rectangle of light like a small giraffe never melting in the sun which
is what you picture when your aim is
to make yourself happy

You eat a lot of things to
make yourself happy.  Stick this
piece of meat in your
mouth to
make yourself happy.  It’s a good one.  The sounds of
sirens outside the window are
gay to the ear that tends
to hear what it needs
to make itself happy.  An interesting thought
about dirt or air or water will work
to make yourself happy.  Look
from where you are (inside the window) not
where you want to be (outside the window), i.e., to
make yourself happy.  This is the way we’ve come
along the dusky boulevards
like eager huskies, taking big steps, eating up
the sidewalks with our big-stepping big-licking legs
making ourselves happy.
Tomorrow we’ll learn all the things to undo in the Making Ourselves
Happy school.  First, the hero never moves towards death.

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