The basement chairs stand against the cool stone walls.
When they aren’t together, the music is playing.
On the worktables are beads, clay, and stacks of magazines.
The sweaty smell of cut wood and lacquer-
From inside confusion,
where each set of footsteps is your own,
there isn’t a way to look out.
From inside the separation between life and the matter
that holds it,
There aren’t connections.
Her arm stretched up like a child who has fallen down,
Beth said, “I can’t stop cutting myself.
I hear voices and without the pain
there is no me.”
“I listen to the music so the Russians won’t take my mind.”
In the shape of an infant about twenty-five,
bobbing his head and kicking his feet,
with a supersonic brain that only runs on full speed,
Carl burps with a giggle and then tries to fart.
Tapping in his chair, lying on the table,
they took the electric guitar that he still plays
away, back at the hospital.
He reads about how to be a success
but it’s hard for him to answer the question that you asked.
He tries to like everyone and he tries to win.
He can’t do either
because of how his head spins.
Anna’s afraid of her mother since her husband died.
She used to dance the tarantella and go out every night.
Now she changes her clothes right after school
and slips out more silent and grey and silently asks
“If you could reach me, what would you find there?”
Connie wants her child to have fun every day,
but Dr. Willy says that she isn’t pregnant and he doesn’t love her.
The medicine makes it go away,
And if you don’t take too much, you can tie a bow in your hair.
Nelson doesn’t smile or say anything.
He’s large and stiff and thinks he looks like Frankenstein,
but he keeps himself clean.
Ernie has a crew cut and a devilish grin.
They hide inside him all the time.
At the hotel where they bring food around like at the hospital,
Nettie’s seen more hell than most women still alive.
They took her baby and started sending strange men up to her room.
They tell her that she always lies,
but she don’t bring no men around and how’d they get there?
Marlene looks like an old lady in her coat and hat,
But she dances for Carl and sometimes they touch.
All yesterday she kept thinking of the horrible
things that she knows will happen to her.
Virginia came from a good family in the South
before she fell ill.
Sometimes she screams obscene things that no one can hear and
“Yes, they certainly have helped her here.”
Through a six hour stretch
where everything is nice,
we walk the parade route
of what reality is like.