The Paradox of Joy and Survival

The splinters of my joy are buried deep
within the swollen flesh around my heart,
whose pulse contains the strength I need to keep
the painful shards from cutting it apart.
My blood congeals; the pressure is intense.
To breathe, it seems, might cause me to explode
into a shock of splintered recompense,
in payment for a debt I never owed.
Success today!  I managed to extract
the smallest piece of all my wooden joy,
the closest to my heart to be exact,
the one I thought most likely to destroy
my soul, and now I hold it in my hand,
and now I know this isn’t what I’d planned.

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