Shame is stuck in the fifties,
in a creamy pale ride, like cake batter butter
with a green/gray stripe across each side,
trimmed in polished strips of chrome,
front to fin. Green, the color of ‘around the gills,’
the color of envy, whispering,
‘I want that feeling I haven’t got.’
A color scolding like the first person who said,
‘Stop whining and fix your face.
Set your smile like it was before.
Set your bones, and smooth your hair.’
A color that spells out:
‘No One Who Can Hear You Cares,’ in reflected light
and the wrenching science of tears.
Shame follows close because someone said
‘Ask for what you need,’
and all the exhaled breath obscuring
that kind of prayer (binding it
so tight that God can’t see),
laughed hard to think
anyone would fall for that,
when the truth follows
in an antique yellow car,
with a stage whisper
louder than the bombs people make,
the bullets they shoot from the hip,
and the contorted words that tumble
from pursed lips that could love you,
if not for how much you are you.
Shame follows in a yellow car
with a thick green stripe,
like a stink you can’t get rid of,
‘Save everyone the trouble’
repeating in its engine’s hum,
telling the terrible truth reason denies
because reason wants to be wrapped in warmth
on the lips, wants that gentleness
to guide it where it needs to be,
to the places where it can’t follow you,
like that musty ride you want to shake.