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All Possible Pain

Feelings seem like made-up things,

though I know they’re not.

I don’t understand why they lead me

around, why I can’t explain to the cop

how the pot got in my car,

how my relationship

with god resembled that

of a prisoner and firing squad

and how I felt after I was shot.

Because then, the way I felt

was feelingless. I had no further

problems with authority.

I was free from the sharp

tongue of the boot of life,

from its scuffed leather toe.

My heart broken like a green bottle

in a parking lot. My life a parking lot,

ninety-eight degrees in the shade

but there is no shade,

never even a sliver.

What if all possible

pain was only the grief of truth?

The throb lingering

only in the exit wounds,

though the entries were the ones

that couldn’t close. As if either of those

was the most real of an assortment

of realities—existing, documented,

hanging like the sentenced

under one sky’s roof.

But my feelings, well,

they had no such proof.

from Our AndromedaFind it in the library

Copyright © 2012 Brenda Shaughnessy
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Brenda Shaughnessy Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.