2017 Poetry Marathon, Hour Eight: A treatise on shame (facsimile)

I became an expert on the meaning of shame
realizing what it means
some twenty-five years ago, if you can believe that

Back then, I still had hope that you and I could become we
though I had doubts, I did my best to resist

I’ll tell you what
had you and I actually become we
we could have surrendered completely to desire

But the part of the you and I equation that didn’t function was and
it took the distance of an ocean for us to express how we feel

There was no need to be ashamed
but we didn’t know that

You, me, we
we might have found some way to fulfill our desire
but we never figured out what

So the shame of you and me, the you and I who could never become we
is the shame we must forever live with, unable as we are to resist

(5 August 2017)


The line I used as my inspiration comes from Milan Kundera’s novel Immortality:

‘Shame means that we resist what we desire, and feel ashamed that we desire what we resist.’ (p. 330 of the 1991 Faber and Faber paperback edition)

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