Shame

Poetry
Rodd Whelpley


Photo Credit: Martin Fisch/Flickr (CC-by)

Here is how to do it.
Fix your eyes forward,
the left wide, rounded,
unblinking,
the right squinted,
as if barreling down
a rifle sight.

Rake
your right index finger
repeatedly
along the back
of your left index finger,
pointed straight ahead.

Harder—
from the knuckle past the nail.
Make some sound,
like a Boy Scout,
vigorous
with a book of blue-tipped matches
working to ignite a fire.

That slight,
deafening swoosh
says
You do not belong.
You deserve
to not belong
for the thing you did,
the person
you fail to be.

This is serious stuff.
This is not ballet.
Never
practice this
before a reflective
shiny surface,
a mirror,
or a window
when it’s dark outside.

pencil

Rodd Whelpley is an “outside the academy” poet interested in the intersection, operation and value of poetry in the work-a-day world. He manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield with his wife, son, a dog, and stacks of books. His poems have appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, 2River View, *82 Review, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Spillway, The Naugatuck River Review, Eunoia Review, Antiphon, The Chagrin River Review and other journals. Email: rwhelpley[at]imea.org