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04
11
05
Self-Portrait as a Family


«« past   |   future »»

[Coma Patient]

Men invented cars, syringe, gun
and bullet. Men invent their cock.
I'm surprised they don't keep

ones like me in a special house
and charge a fee—crooked lines
into the street. Sober they want

us drunken, awake they want our
eyes closed—so they can creep up on
our friction with their little ill-tuned hymns.


[Orderly who Raped the Coma Patient]

Nurses full of their own death, smoking,
hungover, raiding the cabinets.
They think I'm stupid—not to notice

what goes on. Dead get left all night sometimes.
The sleeping lady—the vegetable.
Her car on the wrong road at the wrong time.


[Miracle Child]

My Mother is talking things over
with God. I see her and think I was born
into a plastic bag. Father's name

is "Mysterious Ways, Jailbird, Molester."
My Father is the hand of God.
Grandma sits down in the orange chair

by the door and motions me to kiss
my mother—her hair is just washed.
They expect us. (They know when we come),

the people in blue and green and white.


[Coma Patient]

My back is to the light, the back
of my head is in the car, pack
of cigarettes I'm to buy. The back

of my leg is ten years old, being
felt by Mr. Jenson—the old man
sits on his porch and we line up

for our dime. "He's harmless," Daddy
said. "He'll pass soon," Momma said.


[Orderly who Raped the Coma Patient]

Ten years she's dreamed. Exploring far off places.
I sat and wondered what's in her mind.
If it's turned off complete, dark—or dim,

clawing at a cell door she can't open.
I combed her hair, wiped the drool off her lips.
Minutes can be hours if you're patient, third shift.


[Coma Patient]

I'm talking to my older sister's

ghost—the dairy salesman beat her
in the face with a shoe. She held
my shoulder while I was raped. Better

thief, I held to part of what
was taken from me. Molded into shape.


[Orderly who Raped the Coma Patient]

I washed her, scrubbed her, turned her over.
Poor woman I tried to wake, to please myself.
She stopped bleeding. Her belly grew.


[Miracle Child]

I practice what to say on the ride over,
under my breath: Sunday school lessons,

hot dogs, basketball. Her bed is metal
and electric. Once there was a pat
of butter on her sheet and Grandma cried


[Orderly who Raped the Coma Patient]

If only she'd stopped breathing! Eight months
and we had a son. "Not mine," I said.
I don't need another one. And no one knew.

Nurse Wiley caught me helping the sweaty
retarded girl on hall two. Then everything
showed through. "Shame!" They yelled at the courthouse.


[Coma Patient]

Swollen. The doctor pacing and cussing,

talking to his god. The god of cocks.
The minister dared to hold my hand!
I told my child, before he left to join

his world, "They're all guilty." He screamed.


[Orderly who Raped the Coma Patient]

The Judge looked at me cross-eyed.


[Miracle Child]

and yelled at the people—usually she
sits, waits for me to finish. She always
cries at church. Her nose runs. Minister

touches my head. The church people
walk by and touch my head. Arms raised.
They say, "Dehomsey awyemumya."

People wave and cry. Roll and shout. Amen.






Note: This one may need some explanation. Years ago, when I lived in Upstate New York, I came across a local news item of a coma victim delivering a healthy baby. After the child was born, and DNA was tested, one of her caregivers was arrested for rape. The parents of the coma victim adopted the child. I fictionalized everything else, and set it in the South. I was most interested in persona poems at the time, or what are called dramatic monologues. This is an example of one in three voices.


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post #71
bio: john ball
perma-link
4/11/2005
09:45

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