Telling My True Story

Buffeted by emotional winds,
unexpected gusts of shame
submerged in rants and tirades,
I’m tacking between transparency
and mystery, wonder if I’m over-
stating or holding back, easily
capsized by a frown or negative
comment. Friends lean in
to warn me to keep my secrets,
bury them, hold them underwater
then let them float away.

The gulls scream and circle, beg
for more than scraps of truth,
threatening to shit on the little
ship I sail alone, no land in sight.
I’m told to worry about my image,
how clumsy I look as I climb
aboard for this long journey.
God helps those who help
themselves. Sink or swim,
my mother said. Watch me, Ma!
This time, I’m captain, not mate.

Mineral, VA. Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and seminar leader. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self, and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, and is working on a

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