I’m groaning.

My stepfather comes in

rubs my legs.

My mother comes in

arms folded

standing there

not saying a word

eyes full of tears.

Father looks at her,

don’t worry it’s growing pains.

Doctor hits one knee

with a little rubber mallet

then the other,

whispers to her.

In phone booth, she cries,

Roger has polio.

I fall to the curb

she picks me up,

I’m seven.

In our new home in Long Beach

my mother packs my suitcase,

Where we going?

Ambulance arrives

I’m placed on a stretcher

ambulance roars off

lights flashing

siren sounding.

Car darts in front of ambulance,

doesn’t he know this is an ambulance?

Arrive at LA General Hospital,

rolled into a large room

with fifty beds or more,

I end up in the middle

of the room

talking to a boy

in an elongated crib

like mine.

Now In a room with a doctor,

sticks a needle in my back

I cry

I yell

it won’t  hurt if you lie still

you told me it wouldn’t hurt

you didn’t lie still,

boy in bed on other side of room

he’s crying

then he’s not

he’s dead.

Back in the big room,

rolled out onto a screened in


it’s overflowing

with kids like me,

we’re all sick

we lie there



My mother comes

I can see her down the hall

she can’t come in,

another day

she comes in with my father

wearing  surgical gowns,

they leave toys

or is that another mother and father

leaving toys?

In an ambulance again

back to Long Beach,

in a hospital room with one other child,

can’t watch television,

Graham crackers and milk at night





talk to me

through the open window,

parents with me in my room.

Rolled over to the clinic

black mask over my mouth

and nose,




can move my legs,

therapists  smile as gas passes through,

hot packs on my legs





learning to swim.

After a month

and a week

finally go home.

In bed for months.

Mother becomes ill

another ambulance



close to death,

arms black and blue

from needles

saving her.

My first escape into another world,

read about Jerry West

and Oscar Robinson,

watched Raymond Berry

and Lenny Moore too.

I will look like them,

I pass into a palace

not attached to my bed

or wheelchair

or to tightness in my legs,

two separate worlds

Which one forms me?

The second one,

it’s Dissocia.

I live there

and visit the world

you think is the only one.

In Dissocia

there is no polio,

in Dissocia

my mind untethers

from your world,

I follow a script

In Dissocia.

Where is Dissocia?

It’s right next to your world,

it’s permeable,

I walk in both worlds,

can you begin to see it now?

I hope so

but you probably won’t


trauma at that age exerted

energy in my brain

and passed me

into another world.

When you see me

I’m  always

In Dissocia,

but you can’t tell,

I know,


I’ve only lately realized it


* the name of a play that goes between a hospital bed and a fantasy world. Dissocia is a derivative of the word dissociative, as in a dissociative mental split.