The Country of Shame


Sunday, August. You write

To a worn CD of tenors in front of the Eiffel Tower.

You were there in spirit, remember/

You write comforted—old friends singing

Against depression’s undertow,

Failures strapped to your wrists like dead owls

On the midnight roadside.


You dive to dangerous depth, testing

Yourself to see how much

Grief is bearable. ,

Tears in a petrie dish; under the microscope

Each one refracting someone in mid-journey

Everything yes a journey, an odyssey across

Twenty-four hours, the hull of day, nothing

Sparring with you on the horizon,

The tall masts and transparent sails of nothing.


What shame has taken you hostage

Like a stowaway, someone illegitimate

Not worthy of being in the world

Labeled and dispossessed

Excluded, repudiated


Who inflicted you

With the fear of being,

Phobic toward your own


The fear that you are not enough

For yourself, have nothing

To give to the world.


Critically burned, what could you do

but as you retreated, return fire, scorching

So many, congregated there in the cathedral

Of light,

On the perimeter, afraid

Of you:


Do you like this, this Sunday

Loneliness, when families

Take the air pushing their strollers

Ahead of them


If they knew of the vixen

Looking out from her scratched, grey

Window, waiting for nightfall

That a hawk banks over them,

Strands of fine blond hair in her talons


Live or die. Make up your mind.

Write, write hard and long

Write as CPR, breathing life

Into your own lungs,

Engrave the ragged, residual

testimonials left out in the rain,

Into your own heart.