a duplicity I hoarded in my sixties suburban home
where every lie I was taught to parrot back,
like an unholy catchecism, lodged like a fishbone
in my little girl’s throat;
broke another bone in my unformed body
so that forever after I imagined myself a hunchbacked freak,
arms dangling at grotesque angle.
(Doctor, Doctor, can you tell what will make
poor beautiful dreamer well?
She is sick and about to die,
that would make the angels cry!
Call for the doctor, call for the nurse,
Call for the lady with the alligator purse…)
I’m no Einstein, but I know when two and two
don’t add up to four.
Don’t sweep the filth of your sour sin under the rug,
mother, and tell me you’re merely spring cleaning, again.
Don’t bastardize the word love, stepfather,
blaming it for the abominations you perpetuate
with hot grimaced lips, your dragon tattooed biceps
flexed over matchstick me, like an Armaggedon threat…
(you whited scepulchre, filled with dead girls’ bones!
–can these bones live? Oh you know, Lord–)
The constructing of a complex, underground metropolis,
populated with the cast of my own choosing,
(for once my choice), protected by walls as thick as the stepfather’s
heavenly rap sheet, for which he will have to answer some day
(mine eyes have seen the glory…)
Walls for hiding,
for keeping the riff-raff out, the do-gooders
(“I am only doing this for your own good…”);
the big bruisers who use words and body parts as weapons,
who are crusin’ for a bruisin’– someone’s mad, alright—
I bet it’s God!
Imagine having this talent for complicity
I never knew I had, as the one becomes many:
egos, voices, needs–I never knew I was so deep;
a whole universe subsisting beneath this child-clay,
housing my own little peopled community…
Yet here, beneath the surface me I wear
to spare the shame of discovery
(come out, come out, wherever you are),
twilight once more creeps up
like the most cunning of stalkers, and
voices inside sob and rumble; I find to my dismay
that I am no sophisticated urban planner, after all,
nor genius architect of secret tunnels
and underground passages, for my cobble-stoned streets
are stained with virgin blood (oh, is there no pain like mine?)
I am but a gauche tourist lost in the labyrinthine maze
of too many faces looking back at me
in the mirror, mouthing words I can’t decipher,
and rusty bolted doors with broken windows as begrimed as my bleak future.
Multiplicity: a state of being(s),
Implicitly mine, explicitly theirs–ours–us.
(Note: this reads unevenly because so many of my parts wanted to put in their two cents! As it was, I had to cut this poem nearly in half, or the end result would have been even more rambling.)