The Poet Speaks of Shame


“The Poet Speaks of Shame”


Make a safe space for me to make a mess—

a home for strange noise and vast vats of boiling soup—

—and I will make something beautiful,

and slip it to you around the boulder and under the door

of the paint-slung cave where I crouch, dancing

when I can be almost certain from the shadows that no divers persist here.


But tell me I am not allowed to make a mess—

tell me I am bad, as I know, as my skin and breath have known and confessed—

and I will lose faith in your goodness.

And what’s more, once more, in my own ear

for sweetness in the flowers of people’s faces, hands, and cupboards.

Even the moss and bats tell me then that I trespass in every corner.


How is it that you dare address me?

Oh, I have named my self, and we are illegible—

the Raggedy Thing with his impossible desires,

the Odd Foil without its own character arc,

and      who cannot speak for shame.

That animal still will not tell me her name.


But I have followed her, mad with hunger but too curious for the kill,

to see where she feeds, and where she lies down and sleeps.

And so it was that, by accident or fate, one day she showed me

her secret. How her hideous pulsing goes home to live in all fallen animals,

how they gulp and swallow that rush of quiet blood and defeated sweat

that’s the way she unzips her skin and climbs out of it yet.


Do you have any idea how many times she has failed that you may breathe?

How many deaths an unnameable and precious woman has suffered

to bring you here, and her body lost forever in time’s muddy reeds?

Forgiveness is a flourishing in the body of the world.

Flowers do not require voice, though without light,

their singing hushes quickly to the crushed sweetness of all things.