by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Ma takes me to Market,

she knows if I stay home,

Station'll be funky

when she gets back.

That's one of her history words;

no one else says it,

(Boson don't count,

got it from me).


We don't fly there; she says,

never show your third hand; she says,

only got two, I say,

she just laughs and

"Don't fly."



Tables piled with crusty sweet rigglers,

dancing toys, whistlers, twirlers;

boring stuff Ma likes:

fabric, ceramic, wood,

cook-things, farm-things,

bead-work veils and twinklies;

and everywhere,

doh-girls and -guys,

standing with carved trays of pastries, meat,

spirits in tiny glasses.


Ma doesn't buy me 'em,

but Boson showed me,

you can tickle the doh-folk,

they'll shake and dance,

we catch goodies on the fall-down.


Boson and me,

we saw one of the hop-boys,

flash and handsome, gold ear stud too,

scrub a doh-boy clean,

one swipe,

shining forehead empty as a licked plate,

dropped like an egg sack, yellow and leaky,

we grabbed dusty sweets and scattered,

hop boy disappeared laughing.


Ma says doh-folk ain't real,

can't talk, can't sex, sure can't fly,

but I saw a doh-girl looking

when she said that, -girl looked sad.


I see Ma dicker with the baker,

she's buying a doh-girl,

what for, I say, help out at the Station,

she says, look after you, too,

doh-girl look like nothing,

I lean up and whisper

"I won't tickle."

The Giant Claw, Fred F. Sears, 1957                      

David C. Kopaska-Merkel edited Star*Line in the late '90s, and later served as SFPA President. He won the Rhysling award (long poem) in 2006 for "The Tin Men," a collaboration with Kendall Evans. David hates cold, but this is not why he lives in the Deep South.