Two Poems

Brenda Shaughnessy

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.

To read the rest of this piece, purchase the issue.