Vain Brown Mess


Vain Brown Mess

I cannot recall
when mirrors became
the enemy.

They reflect a stranger;
I fail to maintain eye-contact.

Cursory glances reveal
sagging, ashen skin
concealing bashful blush.

buttery-brown skin
barely begins my story’s depths.

Hate my lips,
my nose, love
my sad eyes,
hate the sad lies
behind them.

They see a blurry,
russet, greying, messy mesh
unworthy of the love
it somehow netted.

Legs too long,
torso too short;
too much midriff girth,
not enough bicep mass

Shoulders broad, bearing
burdens of never was,
wishful nights, and
what was once a neck

A greying-brown mess.

** *

A doctor once told me
I was a small man in a
large man’s frame, but
that was a time before nachos.

A time after that,
a beautiful, fit
personal trainer told me,
I was a mess.

Up-selling gym membership,
but I must confess
I believed him,

But as I stop averting my own gaze
and look directly at the mess,

I see the insecure boy
within the sad old man
occupying this saggy
stretch-marked meat bag.

Imperfections carry
a certain undressed beauty
left unaddressed; now I see differently.

This body is worthy of love
and being loved, despite aberrations.

Despite poor choices,
heartbreaking shortcomings,
succumbing to immediate need

Perhaps living inside
this greying brown mess
isn’t as bad as I envisioned.

** *

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Poetry about the Body, posted by Sumana Roy.

I’ve been shying away from online poetry prompts recently, opting to work on a collection I hope to have published before the end of the year. But this prompt compelled me to revisit a vulnerability I’ve dealt with since I was a child.

I apologize for yet another naval-gazing (see what I did there?) confessional poem, but this one just fell out of my head. I may take it down in a few days. 


14 thoughts on “Vain Brown Mess

    • Thanks trE. I’m not content with the ending though. It doesn’t feel authentic or consistent with my reality. It was getting long, and I really wanted to slam the door on that level of vulnerability once I started feeling stuff. I may take another stab at it.

      As for the collection, I’m probably a month away from a rough draft. *fingers crossed*


  1. Don’t you dare take this down. It’s very good, and of course, so relatable. Fantastic title.

    Nevertheless, you look sexy to me. I love your glasses. I always pick the wrong frames.

    This is my favorite part of your poem:

    my sad eyes,
    hate the sad lies
    behind them.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! How worthy of love, the soul that has a home in this body:
    “I see the insecure boy
    within the sad old man
    occupying this saggy
    stretch-marked meat bag.”
    That insecure boy deserved love, so did the young man who didn’t look like in the magazines, who walked an earth where photo-shop didn’t make magic. A moving poem, so many memorable and true lines! Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barry, it is lovely to see you. Congrats on working on your book. Way to go! I really resonated with this poem, and I especially love the resolution in the closing stanzas that our aging bodies encompass the insecure and hurt young people we once were – and we have come a long way, hence the sadness in our eyes. But yes, we are worthy of love, and I am happy you have that in your life. Shine on!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the tenderness with which this poem is penned. You reminded me of a time when I too felt insecure about myself.. the way I looked, the way I spoke, the way I walked and god knows how many more insignificant things. It took me a lot of time to learn to love myself and believe that imperfection is beautiful! Good luck for your collection, Barry 🙂


  5. I do understand your words Barry, perhaps for different reasons.
    I was never ?blessed with beauty and there has always been changes I would like to make to my facial features. I have only two mirrors in the house, both positioned where the light treats me kindly – and I am not unhappy with what I see there.
    Now ancient, I must admit to being perplexed by the old face that stares back at me, wondering how that can be me, for inside I don’t feel I have aged…
    But I have always been happy in being me, for I am me and not just my face.
    Another do not take this poem away, it is wonderful in its honesty.
    Anna :o]


  6. So sorry for coming to comment so late as I was without my laptop. This is such a moving poem of ‘what makes who I am’ eliciting respect from the readers.
    Congrats on your book that’s being prepared. May many more come.


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