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"A Goddamned Shame" (or, “Words by Heart”)

A First Draft (of Another Start at Assuaging My Teenaged Angst) Take a swig of this permissive missive in an attempt to swallow down your own damned unfinished bigness! This homage to a certain 13-year-old’s rage and my forever-Alanis-loving self. Damaging the tape of Jagged Little Pill at “Forgiven” for a refund on this congenital read more..


A First Draft (of Another Start at Assuaging My Teenaged Angst)


Take a swig of this permissive missive in an attempt to swallow down your own damned unfinished bigness! This homage to a certain 13-year-old’s rage and my forever-Alanis-loving self. Damaging the tape of Jagged Little Pill at “Forgiven” for a refund on this congenital shame, just to purchase it again, determined to unburden myself of the very cross I clung to – to cathartic verses and ecstatic choruses of supposed depravity, and a sanity I couldn’t quite claim.

So I summoned up a spirited lyric in this everlasting hour of our collective uncertainty to remind myself that it’s the responsibility of the wounded to receive the healing.

And I encourage you to have your own self-expression session. Doodle an image, scribble a refrain. Cackle and channel all the while calling on your own blessed name.

If amateurity is where sincerity and artistry meet, encounter me here next month for a man at 33’s first venture into hardcore porn.

Revel in – and rebel… Allow.


with your headphones on
on your side of the bedroom
bruising forearms on knees
rocking back and forth to use this ethereal feeling
you retaliate hard hypothetically
microphone to your fresh face flushed
words back out inside sweater pea green
unleashing your pain to the better of your brethren
immediate family
and the worst of your classmates’ berating
and does the way you yearn to belong to your very self
not fit in with anybody else?

so you’ve been swallowing experimental anti-depressants
so you’ve been diagnosed as relentlessly obsessive
innocently insisting on this wallowing resistance
frightened into a fruitless refusal of your hoary origin
yet you are strangely self-aware
hopeful and forgiving, you are rare
but surreptitiously you remain in rebellion, a hellion they’d best beware of!

for you know that it’s a dang shame
that by simply adding
some sampled adumbrating
these uncensored fears get shed
and you harbinger the self-centered years ahead
and you, you, you…

know the words by heart
from start to finish
all you are becoming is what she is within it
(the more you sneak in the tactless
the more it’s set that she’ll be your enchantress!)
and what you write is heavy ‘cause you’re heady
you’re overdone yet underready!
but, by gol, you know those words by heart

with your walkman on
toward the rear of the bus
cracking fingers as they cling to wristed limped-ness
circumventing an ineffable sense
that what burns eternally in your being
isn’t as secretive as fists meet the back of your head
out from the backseat through to your perverted temple
(and the cross you wear across your chest
you bear it well, yeah you carry it best!)
releasing your resolve you let her rip on the bullies for their beatings and those beautiful boys who know not what they do
and does the way you request their respect
not get you where you want to get?
and if your maker is made-up
then who hands you over to unnatural lusts?

and you’ve been rejected since pre-pubescence
and you’re forever restlessly compulsive
incensed in sensing this persistence
forgoes the fear so as to eject your holy self
they’re apathetic and they hurt you
you with such strong empathetic virtue
rapturously you express compassion with a cheek turned to them

for you know that it’s a darn shame
that in symbolically addressing
some synoptic inadequacy
a lyric could knock us to the floor
if our spirit wouldn’t crave an open door
and you, you, you…

know the words by heart
in parts unfinished
all you are becoming is what I am within them
(the more she’s meaningfully meandrous
the more it’s set that you’ll be well-practiced!)
and what you write is healing ‘cause you’re heady
you overstate to create something steady!
but, my gosh, you know these words by heart

well you’re all “aw shucks!”
but go on and say “oh shit!”
and don’t give two fucks
‘cause you’ve been dealt so fucking much of it!

with his earphones on
in father’s basement
a cramp in calves as hands unclasp
oh, this transcendent receptiveness!
and he pounds down the stairs
not wanting to relate to your imperfect perfection
thrown by your broken vocal inflection
well, i understand the brilliance in your unwitting irony
(pro-forgetting your euphemistic faggot ass
in a crass scream cradled privately!)
and so many other things
just remember it’s generous to ask questions
it’s how your resilience resonates
and, young man, for you peace patiently awaits

you’ve been committed to a deadened essence
as you rest in this disordered nuance
fitfully being your unspoken self in every instance
fearful the fruit is to be savored in your horny orifices
and you are oddly confident and polite
hardwired for well-mannered self-sacrifice
so you take the most of what’s been given to share the best of the life you’ll soon be livin’ – so you don’t have to put up a fight!

for you know it’s all a damn shame
but sympathetic to adaptation
you’re symptomatic of ad infinitum
and what it all comes down to
is that i love you
for you, you, you…

know the words by heart
in bits and starts and fits
and you are becoming all that you are within it all
(the more you steal away the ecstatic
the more it’s set that we’ll make great advances!)
and what you write is hefty ‘cause you’re heady
you’re well-stated though not quite ready!
But, my god, you know every one of the words by heart

yeah you’re all “aw shoot!”
until you go and say “chicken shit!”
and if you’re gay and God is you
then you won’t have hell to pay for this!


you know you are a one-off wonder
with your honest-hearted hunger
and if it calms your teenaged rage
to crack your voice in feminine angst
then sing along to your belonging
(to smuggled cassettes and scribbled poetics of forbidden wisdom
that you wail away to – to wake you up – up from this backwards place!)
to a day when you can simply admit
it’s a goddamned shame
that Adam is my name
with this spontaneous adulteration
and simulated adolescent manifestation
because i’m so inspired by you
and i’m boundlessly proud of you
sensitive one

Add a Response 22 thoughts on ““A Goddamned Shame” (or, “Words by Heart”)

  1. What a lot you’ve been up to, Adam! Amazing time capsule you brought to the surface, and it proves, doesn’t it, that you can change the past when you use it as a reflection, first to honor, then to bend to the present moment. You have a reservoir of resources, and how moving to hear you in this poem, praising the martyred boy, who survived another day, and the day after that, and arrived here, beautiful man, so that I can say I’m very grateful to have met the man, then the boy, and back again. Here. Now.

    • Yes, Chris – to bending it into the blessed present… where two beautiful boys can at long last find one another in the flesh – inspirited, surrendered… Love, Adam

  2. One of our Canadian heroines was a comfort to you in those delicate teen years and what a tribute you’ve given her! I hope she hears you sing this difficult read someday. You remain as vulnerable as ever and give us permission to be the same. Blessings to you, Adam.

    • I hope so too, Smitty! Let’s start a campaign for an AJM/ANM duet – caressing universal truths in cracked details. Blessings back… Adam

  3. …………”It’s responsibility of the wounded to receive the healing”.

    Dear Adam:
    You brought me back to those agonizing days I rarely revisit. The wounds are healed but the scars still remind me those painful nights in labor, trying to bring to life an integral adult whose only craving was to be respected and loved. Those bygone days when we were so many but I was alone with the conviction that I was the only one marked by my “twisted attractions”. Many times suffering in silence, stoically, the scorn of my peers who in their own hesitancies, used me as a shield to hide their personal fears and apparent inadequacies. How many similar stories in our journey as a well defined group!
    The world has changed a lot in the last few years, but I still feel a deep empathy towards those kids, mostly in the periphery of the extremes, who one day, after an indiscreet gesture or an extremely feminine inflection of the voice,overhear the devastating sentence: I’d rather see him dead.

    And you are always here and there, and we should be here and there and everywhere: for you, for me, for them, for us. Thank you, once again, for your voice that awakes consciences.

    • …And thank you for awakening it alongside me, dear Gil. Without darkness there is no light in which to pierce the darkness with in order to… And so it goes… And here and there we are. Much love… Let’s shine. Adam

  4. Thank you as always for sharing your heart and words with us. I empathize with all those who experienced a difficult adolescence, and it is uplifting to read of how you endured abd cane through, not just intact, but flourishing. I’ve always avoided looking too deeply into what my psyche was like back then because it all changed so quickly for me that I haven’t spent a lot of time looking back. Perhaps you’ve insired me to do just that.

    Paul, NYC

    • …And it keeps changing quickly, Paul! Do be inspired… You’ll shed an immense light on the moment we’re in. XO Adam

  5. Adam! My favorite phrase of this inspired piece: “…simply adding
    some sampled adumbrating these uncensored fears get shed”…. You never ever cease to impress and uplift with your keen insights and introspections. THANK YOU for suggesting reading the piece accompanied by Ms. Morissette herself… It’d been YEARS!

    • “Please don’t censor yooour tears…” Years and years indeed. What a cathartic “YES!” it’s been. Much love… Adam

  6. Dear Adam,

    Being the Sensitive one also, I thank you for helping me be proud of myself too. Love the pictures, your just as wonderfully adorable now, as then. Much Love and Admiration!!

  7. Robert Frost said “poetry is when an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found its words.” For so many of us the difficulty of living life–at all stages and ages–is finding the words to express the complex emotions of what we have experienced in life. You’ve captured so much of your youth in this beautiful work, and there are so many of us who, if we had the courage, would try to write to understand ourselves and our lives, but none as eloquent or heartfelt as this.

    • I appreciate this so much, Jeff. And it is just that: a thrilling stab at therapy; writing to get to the bottom of who I am and what all this is. And then reaching across once imagined great divides to make some mighty connections. I’m honored that you stop in and find some comfort and coaxing here. 🙂 Adam

  8. Even I listened to Alanis Morissette so long ago when a university student in Singapore! I see you tormented in the MidWest and me in not so far away around the world when we were both much younger. Thank you for this beautiful, frustrating song. I’m going to find that CD. 🙂

    • I see us sneaking away in a bedroom to clandestine clamoring for something… something more too, Ferdi! 🙂 You are most welcome. Blare “All I Really Want” and “Wake Up,” my teenaged faves, and belt aloud – cracked and complete! Adam

  9. Your talents have no boundaries…who knew you were a poet too? And the picture of you in adolescence is a real treat!


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