Llyn Clague
Confessions: Selected and Edited

SELECTED SECTIONS FROM CONFESSIONS

Of course these confessions are edited.
You wouldn’t be reading them if they weren’t.
Edited, polished, proofed –
in a word, buffed
like the rounded fender
of a classic model T
until, reflected in its black sheen,
you begin to see
me.

But I confess
mostly I hate confessions –
all ego and self and passion
around a single pebble
on miles of ocean shore
as if the sun, stars, even galaxies
revolved on axes
around our speck of a world.

If you, dear reader, were the ear
of God, and I a believer,
eagerly would I pour all
out to you, and include,
in a paroxysm of catharsis,
every jot and tittle
down to the rawest detail.
But you’re not; moreover,
my amour propre,
my – can I say it any other way? –
my image of my sacred self
tries to shut my eyes
to exactly what I need to confess:
not masses of fact,
streams of revelations
or titillating peccadillos,
but particular lies.
_______

I do confess, I found
twixt waist and wig
– but omitting the heart –
much intriguing
in the body corporate.
Under the camouflage
of a beige blouse
or a red tie, behind smiles
poised as a missile shield,
lay the elemental human
animal and soul,
bullying and bullied,
magnanimous or stingy in strength,
vicious or craven in weakness,
self-centered as an amoeba
and as me.

It was a game played on a surface
smooth, flat and green
like a ping pong table,
Three feet above the floor.
We organized and re-organized
and re-organized again,
always above the bottom line,
and never looked lower.
_______

Evenings and weekends
I let escape
the poetry I kept secret
in the dark of my heart.

I wrote and wrote,
and the harder I worked by day
above the bottom line
the further by night
I sank below it.
_______

I had always thought confession,
like the sins you admit,
was something you did in the dark,
in secret, whispered
to a man in black, mostly invisible
and a stand-in for the real Confessor.

Struggling to find God
above, I found only sky,
blue, gray, blue-black with thunder.
Struggling to find Him
in myself, I found only a self,
fragile, fearful, doubting.

In church basements I found people
in brightly lit rooms, completely visible.
People who were not stand-ins,
but only themselves. People
looked others in the eye as they spoke
from the bottom of their throats.

Listening to them,
I could imagine
in their stories from hell
I was hearing the voice of the divine.

While admitting I was an alcoholic –
me, my sacred self striving to be free,
me an addict, one of them
was the hardest confession I ever made,
now, each day, it was the first and simplest
(“My name is…and I am …”).
I confessed less my sins
than my secrets, less
my own loss than my lies,
less my pain than the pain I inflicted,
and I found in my fears
I had company,
in fallibility, friends.

A miracle had indeed happened:
although my ego was still filled with air,
my body no less paunchy,
and my reflexes below average,
I had been “re-born.”
But I was not saved.

Granted only a new beginning,
I had, like an infant,
a lifetime ahead of me.
A lifetime to become the me
I wanted to be.


Clague’s Confessions is a delicious six-course feast. As a poet, he’s approachable; readers can relate to Clague and the life experience he shares. As a man, he’s vulnerable, humorous, and self-effacing. As a reader and reviewer who enjoys poetry, I found the combination of humor and vulnerability to be delightful.

Clague and his Confessions deserve high praise. I cannot do justice to this fine book and Clague’s skill with words in a few excerpts. His poetry must be savored, read and reread, celebrated. This book is highly recommended.
-Review by Laurel Johnson, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Comments from Readers on CONFESSIONS 

“I was very moved by its honesty and specificity”

 “ … incredibly written.  I hung on every word.  I am filled with awe and respect for your ability to write as you do”

 “a deliciously available, humorous and often poignant look at the process of ego and how we catch glimpses of ourselves in relation to our Universe” 

“careful choice of words and images gave me a sharper awareness of language” 

“different, whimsical, smart”