VALLEY OF THE DOLLS The town I came from was in the middle of nowhere. It was a small farming community until the locusts showed up. I suppose you’d call us a tight knit bunch— we knew what hour it was by the colors we wore, and we didn’t follow Daylight Savings Time because it was the work of the devil. In other words, we were a god-fearing people but we only believed in the fear part, and we might have been patriotic but had no idea what country we lived in. We loved our children, though we knew their picnics were really for the yellow jackets. Adult parties we saw as soap operas decaying from conviviality to terror. We had our ups and downs, booms and busts. There was the time the birds decided to attack us like they did like in the movie— we couldn’t have cared less. We were that kind of town. Our library was a point of civic pride but the head librarian kept our dirty fingers away from the books. In the town square we erected statues to the unknown soldier, the unknown conscientious objector, and the unknown guy in a recliner who doesn’t give a fuck. And, boy, did we like our drugs or what? We had parades on holidays. You can take a wild guess how we handled that. When you moved away the whole town gathered at the train station to say good-bye and warn you to never come back. There was a rumor that’s where Thomas Wolfe got the idea for the title of his book. Fact is, Thomas Wolfe never heard of us. Of course, people are the same everywhere: badly carved marionettes jerked about by a drunken, spastic puppeteer. I guess looking back it seems kind of idyllic compared to what I woke up to today.
About the Author: Michael Gushue is co-founder of the DC-based nanopress Poetry Mutual Press. He curates the BAWA poetry reading series in the Brookland and Capitol Hill neighborhoods of DC, and writes the Vrzhu Press poetry & arts blog, Bullets of Love. His books are Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press), Conrad (Silver Spoon Press), Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey (Pretzelcoatl Press). He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Image Credit: Untitled (Amish Doll) Public domain image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia Sue Smith
One thought on “Michael Gushue: “Valley of the Dolls””
Terrific blend of a sardonic viewpoint and the poignancy of reality. Thanks for posting!