A sudden mirror
faced me from my usual
place in the cafe.

Thinning hair, mocking
eyes, a stream of cursing and
blessing, surrounded

by her things. Homeless.
At first I thought Baudelaire
then shook with despair.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

2 thoughts on “Shook”

  1. This poem is very intriguing. After the election in Alabama, especially as regards the black women’s vote’s part in Roy Moore/Trump’s defeat, I thought that Trump’s success with his base is not just about white supremacy but about the desperate need to preserve the bright persona of one’s goodness, one’s all rightness, and keep the fear, maybe even horror, of one’s demons unconscious. How to explain birtherism (its “not-usness”) and the extraordinary things Trump has said, and his base approved, except as acts of desperation. They can’t look in the mirror, and that is their big error. They can’t see common humanity especially in its darker, and more frightening aspects.

    Your poem faces that dilemma head on. We all must, I believe, do that. If Trump and his base could do that, there would be a conversion in their politics. But they don’t have the courage that your poem displays. It’s a powerful poem. I think of all Germany going down under the hubris of one man, supported by his base, not being able to look in the mirror. It’s an age-old story.


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