Bibliotherapy at the Book Doctor

I need a book, a very specific kind of book, for my ailment. I can’t put my finger on it — perhaps you may help me with a diagnosis and a literary cure. A sinking stomach, glazed eyes which light from one shadow to the next, undiscerning and undecided, a dry mouth taste and lack of satisfaction when eating certain words, and certainly not helping to spit them back out. Listless lingering in the spaces between conversations, nervous and inappropiately-timed laughter. A longing to step into paintings which contain cypresses, paths, and bushes. The insistence of two voices — one declaring what one wants to think and the other insinuating what one really wants to think. An obsession with cats. The desire to be alone and seeking that which is in accordance with the silent world. A silent, man-made, carpeted world.

Treatment: a long and winding Murakami novel, with unreadable characters, vanishing animals, strange and foreboding occurrences, and journeys towards something to be found. Every night for the next two months, an hour a night, until the adventure has been seen through to the end.


The Garden of Forking Paths

By fifth grade we recited Dylan Thomas
with apocalyptic voices,
Lewis Carroll and Robert Frost.

At the time I didn’t recognize
the word diverge,
nor any yellow wood.

By thirteen I knew a bit more
about how to tell apart
ghost stories and a tale

one shouldn’t believe,
a dream one should never
find to be true: upon

reaching the end of a dark staircase,
when shaking a pressed leaf
from a book.  By now all

the yellow woods I’ve seen
are blanketed in snow,
and the paths at the edge

blurring from remembrance.
Lined with stones from the sea.

For We Write Poems’ Prompt #106, Forks in the Road

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Sketches from Old Beginnings


Early morning, mom isn’t here
to ask me what I want
to wear, or wash my cranky face;
my father tying up my pigtails
as I sit in the tiny red
plastic chair, sleepy, obedient


The pink and purple tricycle
is the centerpiece in our
traffic games around
the dining table


Pillow fights on mom and dad’s
bed, we sneak into the room
we never enter (except when
I am bawling with the chicken-pox)
My father, angry on his
no-nonsense days


The apartment so small,
the kitchen, living room,
and dining room are the same room.
The old television with a panel of buttons,
Peter Jennings on the nightly news.


The bathtub. The blue-and-white
floating boat and other things
I liked to sink. My mother
singing me that song for
bathing babies.


The barking dogs behind the green-and-white
checkered fence on the way
to school. We collect cat-tails
in the lot and she takes
me to see the fat cat
who we tease through the mail slot.


For We Write Poems’ Prompt #105, Old Beginnings.

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