I take close up photos of my face with my phone.
I discard several of them, choose one, manipulate it
into a more sullen shading that feels more me tonight;
cartooning it, making a graphic novelization of a man.
I take this changed photo and with the power vested in me
to do what billions of others have done, I transfer it to
the world-shrouding cloud and place it or some link to it
where others can see it so that they may identify my words
by my face. Some offer approval at once, others ignore it.
I am disappointed that this is my face tonight.
I am disappointed in how I see myself.
I am disappointed that this seems honest and accurate
and somehow, the best picture I’ve ever taken of myself
or even of anyone else, or anything else. It is so —
ugly. Ugly is not considered a valid word and someone
will likely contradict me upon reading this and say no,
this is you and it is beautiful. All things are beautiful.
Every face, every person, every, everything — except
Evil of course, that’s ugly. Always ugly.
I look at the photo again. It’s honest. It’s truthful
about the current state of a man with multiple illnesses
and a graying conscience. The light manipulation I did
was as honest as the framing and the lighting. I did it
to grow and accent truths worth noting about the face
and no attempt at hiding the changes has been made.
The face hides nothing, and I am here to say
ugly is a truth as strong as beauty, and more common.
If you must insist on all things being beautiful,
if you must call this face beautiful, then I must ask you
to consider what you may be denying
about the ways of the world. You aren’t doing me a favor.
I’m fine, or at least at peace, with not wanting
to stare enraptured into that face that was never anything
but a deviation, long before I took this picture,
long before I started making this face my own.