If All That There Is Is This Fear by Daniel M. Shapiro

This is where they put you when you think you’re alone. They leave you with white: uneven cushions for sleeping, stairs that lead to a lost landing. You hear cellos meant to soothe, long notes that stretch over keys, the only keys. A white telephone would let you complain to friends about loneliness, but the rotary dial won’t turn. You get to wear a white sweater, cutwork embroidered,holes carved into fancy shapes. White pants are fine during any season. Best of all is a window with light that comes through, a window without the hassle of a view. Light comes through until nighttime laughs at you, shaping pieces of stars into words: So you thought you were lonely before. They will let you pass the time by feeling your stubble grow. Of course they can’t give you a razor. When you lean against the white pillar, strike a pose that indicates authentic despair, they move you to a new room. This one is decorated in whatever colors bring out forgotten pictures, exposures of self-awareness.
Title is a lyric from “A Different Corner” by George Michael (#1 on UK Singles Chart, 1986).


Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of the celebrity-centered poetry collection How the Potato Chip Was Invented (sunnyoutside, 2013) and several chapbooks, including Heavy Metal Fairy Tales (Throwback Books, forthcoming). He is a poetry editor with Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and he interviews poets online at Little Myths.