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.
Punching the Mascot
It playfully taunted the referee
by biting its own tail in dismay
and shadowed an unsuspecting usher
into the upper deck,
crimes very soon forgiven,
unless you hate showmanship.
With its large head and poor eyesight
you enjoy watching it flail at halftime
in a match with the hometown mascot.
The person inside the dark costume
sighting only straight ahead
doesn’t see your approach,
is deafened by imitating a beast
in a crowd of excited onlookers.
So to punch it seems cruel,
with children watching
who just shook its paw.
Ellen Foos is the publisher of Ragged Sky Press and is a production editor at Princeton University Press. Her first collection of poetry, Little Knitted Sister, came out in 2006. A MacDowell Colony fellow and a member of U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, her poems have also appeared in U.S. 1 Worksheets, Kelsey Review, Edison Literary Review and Sensations Magazine.