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not John Henry

not John Henryme against the machine
i’m winning
and won’t enjoy a victory lap
afterward

i’m not winning
and can’t even lose
unable to quit

knowing triumph will mean oblivion

and with nothing to prove
i prove nothing
each time i pass by
i slowly fade away
but i thought it was you

i keep digging
each challenge pits me
against the relentless,
faceless machine
staffed by empty souls who won’t reach out
they are simply content to eat
and are compensated to be inhumane

i believed i carried weight
the weight was only burden
in turn, i became burdensome
i forged ahead with dignity
and in doing so, became nothing

i had nothing to prove but tried anyway
and proved nothing

in the end
left to surmise the impracticality and
dubious value of dignity

i wondered if i even had any

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