Poetry Thursday: All the things I wear because the ugly is too awful to bear

nearly-naked protester atop statue at G20 summit Toronto 2010

I wrapped myself
in layers
to keep out the wind
and the rain
and the cold-hearted,
to protect my delicate belly fur
from brushing up
against stinging bitches,
to fend off hailstorms out of nowhere
and guard against shark attacks,
sermons, rabies, catcalls,
and random acts of insomnia.

I outfoxed the bad
and the maybe-bad
and the looks-bad-from-here
and the ba-a-ad bad bad I heard about
from a guy who knows a guy,
with my elaborately constructed fortress
of guile, goose-down, faux fur,
Real Housewives, rants, mantras,
uplifting quotes, strategically-placed sarcasms,
and a cotton-rayon shell
with a touch of Spandex
for movement.

it got hot in there
and not a little smelly.

Which is how
on one of your more tempting summer days
I found myself unzipping a jacket
just for a moment.

And after
the toxic cloud of sour grief
and withered possibilies
and tears
and rage
and confusion
was finally carried off
by a kindly breeze
I think I heard a bird.
Or maybe it was the ocean.
Or maybe it was a poem,
finally whispering softly enough
so I could hear her,
“Off…take it all off.”

That was weeks ago,
or maybe months,
or was it yesterday?

No matter.
I am down to the last fourteen layers
now, and peeling fast.
Two sweaters forward,
one t-shirt back.

With any luck,
I will die
completely naked.


Image by Jason Hargrove via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. What luck to read and hear your words. Perfect and inspiring enough to save us from the ugly of ‘Compare and Contrast these 2 Sonnets by Monday’. Thank you!

  2. C,

    Just a Hello and Thank You. You have inspired me, made me laugh, re-think and simply validated/affirmed my own thoughts about some of the tough stuff I’ve had to face these past 2 years.

    Wishing you all things good, nourishing and grace filled.


  3. wow.

    had my fake fingernails removed after, like, 10+ years (probably more) and it hurt and felt scary and i didn’t recognize my fingers and i’ve had to nurse my real nails back to health. around the same time i started having epiphany after epiphany and, yay, started to write again….using my fake-nail-less fingers and feeling the keyboard (and sometimes pen) in a completely new way.

    i think shedding is good.

    i’m printing out your poem and it is going on the “wall of amazing shit i wish i had written, but learn from anyway” asap.


  4. Colleen, I ditto all above comments. Whenever I need it most, something you write seems to pop up at me; I’ve lost count of how many times you’ve saved one of my days from going straight down the toilet. I share as much of your ‘amazing shit i wish i had written’ with everybody I can, as much as I can. Will you please consider living forever-or at least wait until I kick the bucket? Thank you.

Comments are closed.