Shame Flows

he was a good boy (in his parents’ eyes)
he was loved (for what he did)

so he did what he needed to
to keep their love

he was the dutiful son
he didn’t speak unless spoken to
he didn’t cry when he was hurt
his room was neat and tidy
his toys on the shelf pristine

he kept mum happy
he kept papa proud

but he didn’t know how to keep himself
so he carried the loss

his heart beat
but it only beat him down
its message was
you are unworthy of love
for who you are

shame flowed with each beat
he didn’t know what else there was
to fill his heart

it was where his heart was
he carried the loss

/  / /

This poem was written in response to the Better Inside Out prompt at We Write Poems.

It was written very much in reaction to this sentence from the original prompt idea: “But shame in itself is also a useless state of being, restoring nothing that might have been damaged, and is at root a self-centered point of view.”

13 thoughts on “Shame Flows

  1. It truly is sad for a child to have the idea he/she is loved for what he/she does. I think this carries into adulthood too. Hard to keep trying to EARN love rather than just knowing one is LOVED.


    • Mary, thank you. Truer words were not spoken. You touched on what I was trying to convey in this poem. While I don’t necessarily disagree with Neil’s words, the ones I quoted, I think shame for a child is very different than shame for an adult; and you nailed it with that child growing into an adult, carrying that notion that love has to be earned. Thank you.



  2. Ah, I know this story too well – yet your poem invites me to explore it in a new way. The very idea of a heart turning on the young life whose sole function it is to support, is repulsive. As an image, though, it lends great strength to your poem.


  3. This was wonderfully written.I believe you have detailed the emotional content of what many a young man may feel in the confusing time of his youth, yet, not knowing exactly how expectations have affected him until later adult reflection. I enjoyed your post.


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