V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





It's not feeling old, but sometimes 
the feelings themselves feel very old,

require an archeologist's deft touch
with trowel and brush to uncover
the remains of the original impulse,
the core, not bone, the marrow
of the dread, the shame submerged
in sedimentary layers the self has shed
in its frenzy of denial and fear

—as when you're upset seeing
in your child what worries you
most about yourself—

the same bad choices you have
always made, the singularity of taste
you know even friends find odd,
make allowances for—and
love you with a sympathy
that lets you know you're strange,

—or when, the other day, you grew
so irritated at that fellow fumbling
in the library with books, notes, and pens,
the clumsy dropping, his drooping self-disgust
signaling a fatal lack of cool, panache.

But then your mind's trowel scraped off
the merciful but self-deluding dust,
your pursed lips blew away the last grains
from suddenly similar, skeletal remains
that needed no carbon-dating to prove
yours matched his like the proverbial glove.

And shame, originating in the blood-red cells,
offered another faulty double to own and love. 

© by Herman Asarnow


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