The Greater Pain Scale

On a scale of one to ten,

What is your loneliness?

Think of one as a day when your

Family was out shopping,

Laughing, going to movies, but

You were sick in bed. Ten is

Like everyone you knew

Perished, or decided you were

Worthless and abandoned you.

What about your fear?

Ten is the worst, one is the least.

Be candid; maybe we can help.

One is when you reach

Into your desk drawer and

Find a rubber spider, a ridiculous

Fuzzy black joke that

Makes you fall out of

Your swivel chair while across

The divider coworkers laugh.

Five is the idea that everyone

In the world knows your thoughts,

Knows your hopes and how to

Shatter them. Eight that everyone

Knows what you think of them,

Including her.

Ten is that nothing about you

Is a secret to anyone.

Tell me about your sadness.

Ten is the memory of your

Mother’s drinking that

Left you alone, ranked in value

Behind whiskey, bourbon,

White wine, brandy, and beer.

Five the memory of how your

Lover looked when you betrayed

Her trust on a warm spring night.

One is the realization that swinging at

Recess is a thing lost in the past.

What is your pain? A ten, a one,

Or a zero? But no one is a zero.

Four is your father’s constant absence

When you worshipped him in your

Childhood dreams of perfection.

Eight is the dream you had that

Someone told you to abandon and

That now you wish to God you

Had followed because they are

Far, far away now, but the

Ache remains. Nine is the way

You screamed at your mother once

And left her in tears for no good reason.

Ten is a sick child who

May never be well,

Ten is a psychotic brother who will

Never be well. Ten is the drugs you

Can’t stop, ten is the prison term

You face. Ten is the doubt that

God is, coupled with the certainty

You will face him before long.

One, in the ridiculous scale of doctors,

Is anything like the strain in

Your back, the nail in your foot,

The train running across your arm,

The scalpel in your abscess,

The headache pounding like

Bowling pins in a strike,

The bullet in your chest.

The bigger numbers have

Little to do with the

Corporeal, everything to do

With the ethereal.

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