“CAN THEY DO THAT?”
asked by Johnny Redmond
They can feed you pulverized bones
of rat, but not the eyes or hair.
They can softly submerge your face in the sink,
never the toilet without a showing of cause.
They can sing country western songs
all night off key as you try to sleep,
rap on Fridays, rhythm & blues in the afternoon,
though heavy metal would violate your rights.
They can laugh at your inadequacy.
They can kick you, but only when you’re down.
They’ll seduce your wife with white roses &
tales of your exploits floundering
like a bear with no arms & broken wings.
On a good day they might leave you alone
(a good day for you, for they have none).
They can spin you in a centrifuge,
dress you in dresses, dance on your grave,
can tie your shoelaces in a knot
(don’t say they cannot) then lock
your fingers in a Chinese puzzle
so you struggle until you disappear,
a Theseus walking threadless into a maze.
—from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Ace Boggess: “Despite my last shrink telling me I had ‘nothing textbook wrong with me,’ a lifelong battle with social anxiety led me both to writing and opiate addiction. The latter brought a short life of crime and a much longer prison term in West Virginia, where I serve as inmate legal rep. (Motto: ‘You’re probably screwed, but we’ll see what we can do.’) As such, I often get asked questions like the one that inspired ‘Can They Do That?’.” (web)