Poem: Poetry as Strip Tease

Poetry as Strip Tease

“Put it out there.” she said,
that first therapist, the one who saw you
at your blackest, every sin and flaw
laid out to this perfect stranger in some blind faith,
or more truthfully,
in your desperate need for confession.

You learned the hard way the corrosion
of pretending perfection. It’s corrosion
on you and all you touched. But the whole idea
of peeling the layers off, one by one, in public,
when you could barely admit your boils and brokenness yourself
seemed a whole new kind of madness
before you had cured the first kind.

“Put it out there.” she said.
“You are a creature of discipline,
and you feel a responsibility, even if only one or two reads
to continue writing.
The bloodletting will be your cure
and to do it in the market square
will help your healing. Trust me.”

I didn’t of course. Trust that is.
I was far from a place where I could trust anyone,
but too, I was desperate,
and so I began that slow strip tease
I continue today,

unwrapping layer after layer where anyone can watch,
never knowing where to stop exactly,
when enough is enough and when perhaps
I have moved to something too close to the flesh
where I will burn for my perfidy of truth telling
and when I do not strip enough away that no one cares.
It’s a strange game, poetry as therapy,
poetry as strip teases, but who knew,
fifteen years later,
that there were still layers left?

About this poem

It seems I always began publishing poems because of someone else. It really was my first therapist, fifteen years ago, who got me started. I was on the blogger platform then, and years later I had maybe 30 readers. Moving to WordPress six years ago and there are a lot more of you.

The poetry really is something of a strip tease. How much truth and how much fiction to make something worth reading, and still true at its core. It’s a strange thing and I don’t pretend to have it figured out yet. Thank you all for putting up with my grand experiment in public self therapy.




  1. Isn’t it what we all do? Sadly, though, in these devastatingly immoral and undisciplined times, it appears that telling lies is acceptable and expected, so while we bare our souls, does anyone believe us? Does it matter? I actually think it does. For me, anyway.

  2. Your thoughts, as I process them each morning, give me a reason to think.
    They touch me deeply, as I can relate to so much of what you are expressing.
    Thank you, Tom, for sharing your journey. It is so appreciated by me.

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