except secondhand smoke in my atmosphere,
permission to play catch with the neighbor’s kid
(the one who had the personality of a pet rock),
corduroys that didn’t fit my awkward physique,
and classmates who teased me. Nothing.
I was assigned chores without an allowance,
given water when I begged for grape soda,
told to save money while friends flaunted new toys,
and ordered to be polite, even when people gave me nothing.
Later, as a teenager, my parents watched as circumstance
kicked confusion into their baby boy’s blood.
Yet they gave me nothing, except unsolicited advice.
And now I’m older, spending Saturday night sober,
trying to resist the pull of my vices,
relaxing after five days of working a job I despise
just so I can purchase junk that I don’t need,
and I realize when the world gave me nothing,
I had everything.
Adrian S. Potter writes poetry and short fiction. He is the author of the fiction chapbook Survival Notes (Červená Barva Press, 2008) and winner of the 2010 Southern Illinois Writers Guild Poetry Contest. Some publication credits include North American Review, Jet Fuel Review, Obsidian and Kansas City Voices. He blogs, sometimes, at http://adrianspotter.com/.