Writing Place 2021

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Cupboard of Shame

By Alison Paradoxx


The cupboard of shame has no

custom-made mirror doors or

uber-kitsch plastic paneling


… it has no extendable

his-and-hers shoe rack


You can’t buy a

cupboard of shame from

Ikea or bid for it on



You can’t buy a

cupboard of shame with

money or even find it on the

side of the road for

hard rubbish collection day


The cupboard of shame is built

by you

and personalised with

your own

regrets and denigration


uncomfortable secrets

taunts and humiliation


It is made

of whispers and asides,

scoffs and judgement


hidden secrets

and denial


it is made of that time your

own father walked

down the street thirteen






so that nobody could tell

you were his



it is all the

times your body was exposed to

doctors eyes as an exhibit in

the museum of sickness


it is made of the assumptions of your

mental state by men in

business suits with folded arms

who reek of mid-range


… who think they know you and what you

are made up of


it is the root

of your addictions

the bane

of your afflictions

madness and pain

sane or insane?

it’s all locked away safely in your

cupboard of shame…


it is all the fractured ribs

and grated knuckles


all the bloodshot eyes

and lost dreams


all the regret of

youth disappeared


it is going to sleep at the age of


and waking up

at the age of


not remembering





But the cupboard of shame

is just a cupboard

and cupboards can’t last forever


they get damp, mildewy, they start to

rot and pieces


away from their once

solid structures


yesterday I began to construct a bonfire

I slowly peeled small

splinters of wood from the legs of

the cupboard of shame

… I unhinged its rotting doors

and put an axe to its broken frame


and some day soon

I shall be warmed

by its bittersweet flames


until all that remains

are the blazing ashes

of memories



left from my


of shame


About Alison Paradoxx

Alison Paradoxx is an Award-winning Disabled, and Chronically-Ill Performance Poet, Producer, Event Host, and State Poetry Slam Champion. Their work explores the clinical violation of the body, and a journey through the paradoxes of humanity. Weaving stories of stoic persistence as a childhood burns survivor, through experiences with scoliosis, eating disorders, surgical violation, and congenital disease, they challenge social assumptions of the disabled body as an object of ‘pity’, or ‘fear’


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