Carmine was a member of the family
and staff and also had a thick Boston accent.
He was the namesake of a
plush toy hedgehog I won once in bingo
on the fifth floor of the children’s hospital.
No one lost at hospital bingo, though
ostensibly also no one won anything worth wanting.

My future advisor, named after a different animal,
would later write a book called
Meaning in Life and Why It Matters
which suggested that anyone obsessed only with
the goings-on of their pet goldfish would be
very boring, thereby showing that
there are other things of value in life.

I was a childish representation
of a depiction in a book of what
gastropod mollusks without shells
(or with very small internal shells)
would do to us when we were sleeping.
I was always sleeping on public transportation
by accident — until one day,

a fairy godmother, several doctors
and four security guards escorted me
to the emergency room where
several other security
guards took all of my possessions
and put them in garbage bags

I wrote a lot of letters like Big Bird did
to his imaginary friend who was not
a hallucination but just a friend
with the benefit of being imaginary,
which also had its drawbacks,
since no one would believe the Bird about his friend
even though he was bright and a primary color.

They took everything
especially my drawing supplies
though not my copy of an existentialist novel,
which I was permitted to read because it was paperback,
and so could not be used to hurt anything
except maybe your fingers and maybe
even then only if you didn’t try

Later I was allowed a novel that
even my professor told me was all about drugs.
but not allowed a book by a dead syphilitic
pessimist who was often mistaken for a Nazi
because it might hurt myself or others
Like the bathroom, I mean

no one’s allowed to close the door
if they have once used a bathroom
for nefarious purposes and also maybe you
are afraid that they will leave you overnight
And after how you've treated them
It surely serves you right!

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