Shame, Spice, and Everything Nice [naomi]

Batter these walls,
strike them like a cymbal.
There is a word resonating within,
written deep within these iron chambers.
It is a hiding place,
a vile refuge,
a bloodbath in which I soak.
It is the feast of the beast
who waits to devour me and my name
and every heartbeat apart from me.

The name is shame.

Shame is the dirge I hear at the end of the day.

It is the bookmark in the blessings
my heritage gave me.
An underwater handbook of season
(and spice and everything nice).
An heirloom, an inheritance,
never fought for.

It is our stance, the lines etched in our face;
mother, daughter, daughter, mother, sister, friend.
It follows the footsteps of every woman I know.

Fix your face.
Be a sweet girl.
Just smile.
Smile on.
Smile all the way through bloody hell.
Enjoy every minute of it.
You’re too uptight, just relax.
Don’t let yourself go.
Don’t be too sexy.
Don’t be dowdy.
Don’t eat that.
Don’t talk about how you really feel.
Cry in the shower.
Cry in your pillow.
Cry alone.
Am I too loud?
Am I too quiet?
How can I change for you today?

Shame is the semblance of spirituality
twisting into a profane sense of Christian duty and morality
and appearance and judgment.
It is knowing I am not.
It is red in the register
that demands sweat and blood to repay.
It is love, altered into its most hideous form.
It blesses and serves;
It leads, but not to and for life.
No, for where love gives wings,
shame demands chains.

It is a sideways glance.
it is a roulette of sunglasses
and lipstick.

It is the stench of red clay and Old Spice
the scent of pie crust promises made and re-made
with a different name and a different taste,
but always the same damn smell.
I’m telling you, I can smell it.
It is every.where.
And it whispers, “damn you.”

But shame wasn’t the first word,
and it won’t be the last.

Set the captives free.


[Music: Stand by Son Lux. Listen Here.]

4 thoughts on “Shame, Spice, and Everything Nice [naomi]

  1. Well, now that I have finally had a moment with no one around I was able to take a few moments to listen to this. I want to say that this is beautiful because I think the poetic element of it is, but that is not the word I would use to describe the content. It is poignant and encapsulates perfectly the many conversations we have had surrounding this concept. My personal experience of shame and the way I received it in my own story are different, but I resonate with what you feel. Thanks for being willing to share this. It would be cool if there were a second movement to this poem where a new name is embraced…where the last word is spoken.

    • Thanks, Vanessa. I agree with you, I think there is a beautiful aspect to the poetry, but overall it’s a writing about an awful subject that is terrible to convey. Justin actually had a really hard time with the content and the bitterness therein. And the more I think about it, the more I think that perhaps a second movement is a really great idea. Maybe next Christmas Eve we’ll have to have another sleep-over on the living room floor and let the new movement play in my head. Course, we’d have to fly you in for that. 🙂

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