John Lee Clark


Listen to Audio Version read by Sean Mahoney.

Goldilocks was in deep denial and refused to use a white cane

That's how she got lost in the woods stumbling over tree roots and things

Then she hit a wall

A house


She entered and wrinkled her nose and remembered the Annie movie from when she was little

It was the part where Daddy Warbucks said I smell a wet dog

It was dark inside so she did her ginger duck walk and zombie arms until she came against a table with some food on it

After emptying a bag of Doritos she wandered deeper into the house

Kitchen bathroom living room small chair too small medium sized chair too hard big recliner ahh that's much better

When the three bears got home they were happy to find that they had company

Papa Bear shook Goldilocks awake and asked who you

When she didn't answer Papa Bear put his paw under her hand

She snatched her hand back and said I can see

Papa Bear said okay and asked again who you

She said I'm from Long Island here vacation

Papa Bear asked when arrive here you

She said my name yellowcurls

Papa Bear asked need help you

She said will soon graduate May

Papa Bear gave up and turned to Mama Bear and said denial obvious misunderstand misunderstand

Mama Bear said sad yes nothing can do leave alone

Baby Bear asked if he could play with yellowcurls

Mama Bear thought about it and said no better not yellowcurls denial means hard talk can't play good

So the whole bear clan went about their business as if Goldilocks wasn't sitting there

She jumped up and stamped her feet and said not nice you ignore avoid me

She whirled around to make a dramatic exit but ended up in the bedroom where she stumbled and fell into a bed

She stayed on the bed for a long time pretending that she had planned to sleep there all along


*Editor's Note: Readers familiar with John Lee Clark's work will recognize his use of English gloss for ASL dialogue. Those unfamiliar with this device may appreciate knowing that these are not meant as translations of ASL, for proper translations would be in proper English. Instead, these follow somewhat the grammatical structures of ASL and are meant to, as Clark puts it, "disorient readers a little and to play with idiom."


John Lee Clark was recently named a finalist for Split This Rock's Freedom Plow Award for Poetry and Activism, in recognition for his work translating ASL poetry and advocating for poets with disabilities. His latest book is a collection of essays, Where I Stand: On the Signing Community and My DeafBlind Experience. He currently works as a Braille instructor and lives in Hopkins, Minnesota, with his wife, the artist and author Adrean Clark, and their three sons.