An emissary of the kingdom approached me, offer in hand:
Full citizenship in the democracy of They
With full, unstinted knowledge of what They say
And continuous initiation in the windy way
Of conformity, (which is their word for Mordor.)
To wit, I would be known throughout the land
As One of Us: a standard bearer in that noble order,
With all the rights and privileges pertaining
Thereunto, with not a shade remaining
Of loneliness, (which is their name for solitude.)
I thanked them kindly, and inquired of them the price
To which they laughingly said there was no hurry.
All payments are delayed, and not to worry.
They said, “Our payment is easy and our cost is light.”
So I in their whimsical fellowship was one,
And deep inside the inner circle came,
For a time, and entered into exclusive fun.
Payment was delayed, but all the same
The bill at length arrived. It was very easy.
An automatic payment option for the lazy,
That would take the payment even in my sleep
And the payment (they said) was nothing I would want to keep.
They only asked to take from me my crazy.
Really, you know, they were doing me a service
And the paperwork was already almost complete
Stack, collated and stapled nice and neat,
Needing only a signature. Don’t be nervous,
The signature is only a formality
To set up automatic withdrawal, and return you to normality.
But I noticed that in all that stack of copious paperwork,
There was no “decline” box for me to check.
Not that I meant to decline, but what the heck?
Did they really think that no one ever would?
And gradually that lack began to irk
And then it hit me out of a clear blue sky,
I couldn’t do it. The price was far too high.
When they said “Crazy,” what they really meant was “Why?”
Pieces fell in place, and the horizon grew apace
Before the dusky incomprehension of their face
Slack-jawed in bland complacency, like my own.
There were options, dawning like the sun
In blinding profusion.
Before their growing confusion,
Mingled with disgust and nascent hate.
I asked, “Why take their paperwork, when I have an empty slate?
Why crawl when I could even dare to die.”
So I politely told them what I didn’t give,
For their tribute; And went my way and began to live.