SHAME

SHAME

Laurel Peterson

Charlene slouches into yet another 

poetry reading, because the guy’s a friend

and that’s what you do, even as she knows

she’s doing it to look good.

After, the moderator always lets

the group read their own poems,

but Charlene doesn’t want to stay

for their small, sorry expulsions of words

like the popping of zits, even if, once in a while,

someone captures a line 

as beautiful as a caged leopard. 

But tonight she sits in the wrong place,

and the needy woman whom she avoids like the flu

wants Charlene to read her poem, holds it up like a flag,

and Charlene’s exit explodes into a circus with her 

as the performing elephant. Even the next morning 

she feels the weight of it beneath her heart,

lonely and hard like fossilized bone. 

(Laurel Peterson)

image by Wendy Thomas

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