All Possible Pain
by Brenda Shaughnessy

copyright © 2012 by Brenda Shaughnessy

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.