Cures for neuroses

The flowering buds on the bush 
by the door were meant to be plucked 
whenever he passed the languid gardener 
squatting and watching the days go by.

Every day he plucked a bud 
like an automatic prayer 
while the languid gardener 
waited to get paid.

People asked him why
and laughed heartily
when he said it was a precaution.

Some wanted to know
what power there is
in a bud that wouldn’t grow,
except old and withered
and a source for wonder 
come time to press his pants,
while others called it a sickness
in the mind of a scared chameleon 
who sees himself and shudders 
because the world has no heart
to respond to his changing feelings.

One grave old sage cured him
of recurring fantasies of happiness;
another made him understand 
that when he cowered in a corner 
it was because of a fear without 
foundation and a dreadful curse;
while still another pondered awhile 
before saying he was not graffiti 
trying to scale a wall growing taller —

All the while he went to pieces 
and dissolved, while his eyes 
rolled downhill and stayed there,
and his hands became claws 
under a skin shriveled
on a parallel with his ego —

Rid of nerves jangling like a chord 
of a banjo bothered by feelings
of all kinds all the while.

Witnesses of the change wondered 
at the loving-kindness of a man 
who had once hired an unfeeling 
and languid gardener to neglect 
all the plants in his garden.

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