Ruth Stone

I remember a Harvard student

who couldn’t admit to himself

that he was gay,

suddenly one day

telling everyone

he was a lampshade.

He was so convinced

he tried to stick his fingers

into wall sockets.

The ambulance squad

wrapped him in a straight jacket

and drove him away.


Somewhere he may be lighting

someone’s darkness—


More likely,

he is still a lampshade,

perhaps pressed tight

upon a hot bulb,

perhaps accordian pleated—

as they used to be—

in the opulent fifties

after the Second World War,

when factories turned

back to confetti

and women took off

their overalls.


Poor boy

he only wanted

to love some man—

who knows who?


And speaking of real sin,

we had just dropped

that bomb on Japan

and radiation

was two miles high—

just dust in the blue.

Found In Volume 35, No. 03
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Ruth Stone
About the Author

The author of 13 books of poetry, Ruth Stone died in late 2011.