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We speak in circles,
Sock-monkeys one and all,
able to say what we are told.
Yes, we are humbled by the experience.
No, we don’t like ourselves much.
Yes, the doctor is well-adjusted.
Dusty from disuse,
afraid of the wrong influences,
trust is established amongst the puppets.
I do not want you in this group,
social anxiety is not a disorder,
puppets have feelings too.
The number of sessions pretends to be open,
if you drop out it means you are better.
What did you learn from last week?
We are all in this together.
Individual therapy has been discouraged.
What happened to make you think that?
A hand inside told me what to do,
for so long I forgot who I was.
Television characters scared me:
Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
It’s foreign to speak to creepy animals.
Lamb Chop made me violent,
simple instructions were ineffective.
Puppet theater is a world of make-believe,
I will tell the others my problems.
Group dynamics between soft heads
slows down to a safe speed.
Copyright 2020 Ellen Foos
Ellen Foos is the publisher of Ragged Sky Press and is a production editor at Princeton University Press.
I like to think of this, not as a critique of group therapy, but as a metaphor for human congregation in general.
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Thanks, John. I agree. And in particular I would see the poem as an allegory for the way the body politic in America behaves. Note for example the way the media has reacted to the assassination of Suleimani, parroting the US government’s line that he was a “bad actor” who deserved what he got….