Onion Fish

                    === 1 ===

          What the heck is an onion fish?
          Just a metaphor for self-deception.
          Is it easy to peel up? I wish!
          All that armor is for my protection.

          But I peel it, I cry, but I peel.
          Scale by scale, being a patient lie-slayer,
          And it feels like I see what is real,
          But then, oops, there is one more layer.

                    === 2 ===

          Layer one - you are feeling disgust
          At those folks doing stuff "you don't want to" 
          Looks like Gluttony, Pride, Greed and Lust, 
          So you're turning your back - not your canto!

          You're a Saint; they are Sinners and dirt
          You're a morality standards supplier 
          But the price is too steep, and it hurts
          You agree to give up your desires

          Look again - do you see where's the smudge?
          Most of it's in your eyes, in your feelings
          And you're not qualified to judge
          Any soon, so just focus on peeling 

                    === 3 ===

          Layer two - no disgust, but a bore
          All those things - they just aren't worth the effort
          All your urges you simply ignore,
          And yourself is so easy to shepherd

          Did you notice you've cheated again?
          Face the truth - it's because there's no proffer.
          All that out-of-reach stuff you abstain.
          You "don't want" all the things no one offers

                    === 4 ===

          Layer three - when you misestimate
          How important you are to the others 
          Wish the planet to spin at your rate
          And ignore that indeed no one bothers

          And it wouldn't help if you "explained" -
          They were not being silly or scruple
          Force it - and you'll go down the drain:
          When you lie to yourself, life is brutal.

          And don't frame them as being a "poor thing"
          So you have an excuse to come rescue
          And revive them with vigor and zing
          And expect that they owe you and pay you

                    === 5 ===

          Layer four - scales are small, but so sharp!
          And they're rooted so deep - fish is bleeding.
          And it's like: if you lose them - you'll warp...
          Stay on course and be brave - they are kidding.

          Healthy people don't ask you to teach
          How to live, how to grow, how to molder
          And they hate it whenever you reach
          With your nose peeking over their shoulder

          Are they really enjoying your brags
          Or amused when you're mocking on theirs?
          Do they wanna be your safety bags?
          Or maybe, be your charge d'affaires?

          Or to guide you through life step-by-step
          Or to follow your justifications
          Or to jump in just to do all the prep
          So you come just for congratulations

          But your greed (please acknowledge that too)
          Makes it tempting to get lie-assisted:
          Self-assured that they want you to do 
          All the ugly stuff I have just listed

                    === 6 ===

          Let's be honest about why we need
          All those scales, all those terrible liars:
          For suppressing our shame for our greed
          And excusing neglected desires

          So, you need them, and this is for real
          You cannot live without those potions:
          All those scales you cannot just peel 
          Otherwise you will drown in emotions

          Oh, emotions? A lot can be done:
          Million books handle them to perfection!
          But then oops, you are back to square one:
          They suggest that you use self-deception.

          It is easy to run from yourself
          But good luck on both running and peeling
          Time to turn from the bury to delve
          Don't escape, turn around, face your feelings.

          Let them be, let them flow and go through
          And invite and accept every feeling
          It will hurt, but then you will be you,
          And when done - go ahead, do the peeling

          This is rough, and it comes with a price - 
          Shields are gone, and you're right to be scared
          But then oops, unexpected surprise:
          Naked fish is much tougher than scaled

          July 2019

() Konstantin Balashov, Beaverton, Oregon