May 2013 - Comments Off on Family of Four

Family of Four

Esme Franklin '13

Auntie Zee
Robert the Haitian Voodoo Secretary
Bad Baby

As a pill is pinched from its pocket
one or the other of them climbs into her
bag each morning, prepared

with adequate humor and crazy
to face the bureaucracy of poverty,
free clinics, and men who like that,

woman. I stop noticing the difference
between plastic and skin when I am young,
before baby can be parsed from mother or doll.

Crack Baby
Crack Baby’s Nurse
The Spy
Bad Little Myrtle

When a day is good I hear the clucking
of polyethylene bodies and cotton minds
come from within her cave down the hall.

On bad days they are quiet and she is loud.
On bad days we require many more purses,
satchels and miniature accoutrements of power

to leave the apartment; we travel
in swaths of meldola blue and cigarettes
scotch-taped to immutable, yellowing hands.

Vladimir Anasthasious Schwartz / Volo / Vo

In January Mo, Vo and I pass Willem Dafoe
on Canal Street. He looks from the nappy head
and placid smile of Mo’s purse to her face.

His wink, woman, is not-unpleasant dejà-vu.
I try to mimic him later on the L when Vo wants
to pose for a photo. If I can capture the genus of celebrity

will I belong in this family portrait? The plastic
of Mo’s skin when she sleeps sweats the American
Cheese of real doll. Steady us, long train.

Notes to “Family of Four”:

The Italian word for doll is bambola. Bambola was adopted from an outdoor market in Naples.
Bad Baby is approximately 3 inches in height. He wears a crown of golden laurel as a sign of his affinity with the authoritarian grandeur of the Roman Empire.
The inspiration for Crack Baby’s personality was taken, in part, from Diane Arbus’ “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park,” NYC 1962.
The Spy is a Barbie jointed at the knees and elbow, with a video camera installed in her forehead that projects footage out through her stomach.
For further information on Volo:

Published by: in Poetry, Volume 69, Volume 69: Issue 2

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