At the Doll Wing of the State Psychiatric Hospital

The afternoon light is dingy
from unwashed windows
as residents begin gathering
in the social room. Brains,
nervous systems & psyches
are wounded in many ways
for dolls made of cloth, springs,
plastic, plush, paint (& mostly)
neglect, drunk with med-cocktails
mixed with Haldol, Xanax,
Lithium, everything from Adderall
to Zoloft—shaken and stirred
by bartenders posing as doctors.
Fashion dolls, action figures,
3D Pixars, stuffed animals,
cloth baby dolls—the complete
spectrum—are all raggedy
both outside and inside
as they gather for activities
and company, watched over
by ghostly figures sitting
against dirty green walls
drooling thru Thorazine haze.
In a dim alcove, Messieurs Rabbit
(Peter & Velveteen) scheme to win
the heart of Madame Jessica, while
Chatty Cathy cranks up her inner
Cougar for Buzz Lightyear.
Poetry Reading by Munch ‘Scream’ doll:
             I am SO tired of the abuse of my image—
             “A Mona Lisa for our time.” Really?
             Don’t you know the orange skyscape
             comes from the ashes of Krakatoa,
             not some absinthe hallucination?

Cowering behind a couch is Little Red, hood
dragged over her eyes, hiding (she hopes)
from the Mean Girl dolls—Batgirl, Bratzilla,
and their vicious leader, Lingerie Barbie.
Back from rehab, bobblehead druggies
Elvis and Michael J. are chatting up
Applejack, banned from her My Little Pony
fam for addiction to her namesake spirit.
The Dr. House action figure continues
to practice medicine despite his Vike
Poetry Reading by G.I. Joe:
             Back home from a tour
             in Afghanistan & two
             in Iraq, sporting medals:
             a bronze star,
             2 purple hearts
             & the scarlet letters

The blue-jacketed Civil
War action figure listens
intently to Joe, wondering
if his battle-scrambled
body and brain—‘soldier’s heart’
in the parlance of the day—
is similar to that PTS
thing. He hopes Joe will meet
for a chat over cups of burnt
coffee in chipped ceramic mugs.
Later, at dinner, chef-in-training
Red serves wolf tartare amuse-
bouche, and the L-Barbie 3
accuse her of cannibalism
for serving a dead fellow toy.
She retorts that plush animals
are of a different species—
“Tribe of Doll,” not Donner
Party wannabes.
Poetry Reading by Emily Dickinson action figure:
             Wild Nights!

The Bill Shakes action figure
is stuck to the refrigerator
by the magnet on his back,
making his head-orderly
job much more difficult.
To pull the pin on the evening,
he instructs his trusty dogsbody,
in the words of Othello,
to put out the light & then
put out the light
The residents start wander-
ing back to their sleeping areas,
with dozens of Nancy Nurse
dolls trailing with paper cups
brimful of bedtime meds.
Doll dormitories are purpose-
built, so drifting down the sleep-
hallway reveals rooms of cots,
shelves for standing action
figures, bunk beds, retro
beanbag beds, and cribs.
Even after the day’s final lights out,
silence is not feasible, including snoring
soft and loud & nightmare-shrieks.
Staff dream-translators record muttered
doll-words on smartphones in pockets
of their white coats for the files.



Kim Peter Kovac

Kim Peter Kovac’s Border Sounds: Poem & Dispatches from Other Timezones, was published in January 2021. He also has 150+ pieces in print and online in journals from Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Korea, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (Dubai) and the USA.  After 30+ years commissioning and producing new plays for young audiences, he was named a Lifetime Fellow of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.  Website: www [dot] kimpeterkovac [dot] com.  Twitter: @kimpeterkovac. Kim recommends the Youth Mental Health Project.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, November 13, 2022 - 22:26