Brueghel's "Two Monkeys"
Brueghel’s “Two Monkeys”


The stages of giving birth for the first time and

those of chronic PTSD seem to have

the same four elements


Persistent fear response or

realizing you might have to push and know you cannot

and so you hold it and shake


Hyperarousal or

everything you see and hear from the midwife

makes you want to waddle away or scratch her useless face off


Dissociation or

you give up and beg for sleep

their ultimatums sound like stoned angels in acting class


Disrupted attachment process or

we are two chained monkeys

staring at ends and beginnings with nowhere to go but out


Then there is a rock at last to beat to beat to beat the iron down

The googley-eyed new doctor came in with a vacuum

to make empty shriek better than full


We will hobble together like a chain gang

now that the window is empty again

and only Sam Cooke knows the sound of our walk



(This poem originally appeared in One Image: One Hundred Voices as part of the 2013 Global Flash Literature Project)


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