Poetry: Learned Hopelessness by Flannery Maney

Each time around like a carousel//

The smiling strangers like harlequins posed//

A stranger turned ally turned object of desire//

And another window of opportunity closed//


But it’s the hope that gets us//

It feeds us and propels us over glimmering melodies//

And we project the future on our dreams and our instagrams//

Following orders from traditional philosophies//


We hold on close because the big one is coming//

And we amble forwards collecting warm feelings//

Promising safety and assurance, support and sex//

Our difficult memories of past loves healing//


But then, like a darker horse chasing our carriage//

There’s two schools of thought I find ruminating//

That maybe relying on someone else isn’t safe enough//

Or maybe there’s other people you could be dating//

And there’s fear and there’s shame

and there’s guilt and there’s blame

and there’s love and there’s desire

and there’s passivity and there’s fire

and there’s comparisons that push us away

and there’s aspirations that get us through the day


and there’s that sinking feeling that life is short//

so you jump off the carousel and sit by yourself//

counting your loves like they’re bullet wounds, like they’re resume points//

sometimes it feels like they’re

all you have.

and you hate the way they made you feel once.

and you vow to never get on that death trap again.


Until it starts again. It’s like a whisper//

like a minor melody calling you into the funhouse//

And there it is again, built completely on the opinions of others//

And it stands before you in red and gold splendor and Facebook pages//

What are we but riders?— but ticket buyers who gaze with starry eyes at the bobbing plastic horses?— on a machine as old as time itself//

And I wonder. Is getting on again where we’ll find true fulfillment?//

Or is it simply learned hopelessness//


This is the second in a series titled "Fake Psych" by Flannery Maney



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