Linda Carney-Goodrich


Listen to the audio version.

My sister drives us to the office.
My voice has been taken over by my own heartbeat.

I do not want to hear what they are going to say about us.
Don't want to know where the fences lie.

In this minute before the news, I'd like to take a detour to the beach.
Fill us up on fried clams and potatoes.

Son, swim like you are flying.
Son, say the words I know you have been saving.
Surprise them all with your intellect.

Oh, you paint the sounds and build houses from crayons.
There is no other with the blue of your eyes.
What if a boy had been raised by wolves?
He would only know how to wolf talk.

The welfare insurance card sweats in my hand.
My second hand shoes give a stench that belongs to some other body.

Let's you and me float like air, son.
Let's bob and float and escape like balloons.
I can't hear the words when she speaks the diagnosis.
Her mouth moves matter of fact.
She has added the numbers and that they can't change.

It is basic and it is plain, the Doctor pronounces.
Like a rock is a rock and a tree is a tree.

* * *


Listen to the audio version.

The doctors know what will help my two sons.
The sky is sometimes blue.
Tuna can come from a can.

"Watch my mouth, see how it moves," the speech therapist tells my youngest son.

He doesn't believe that S comes before P in words like spot and spill.
That there is no P sound in smoke.
"I like my words," he tells me.

The psychiatrist says to my older son that she understands just what he means when he says
that the world sees him in pink, but he's wearing green,
That there is a thought in his head that forced its way in from someone else's mind.

"There's a good med for that. Trust me."

"Watch my mouth. Say the word. Trust me."

Both sons look to me.

There are some things to be certain of in this world.
I am certain I don't know what they are.
I reassure. I smile.
I can be trusted to say yes and we can always try something else.
I can be trusted to hope.

* * *


Listen to the audio version.

Don't speak to that tall man.

Don't walk the dog on the golf course in summer.

Don't believe the one who claimed a donut is an athlete's breakfast.

Don't forget to take your medicine.

Do not trust people just because they are people.

Beautiful boy, darling son.

When the doctor called and said you were detained,
Because you claimed aliens had taken your teeth in the night,
Your roommates shape shifted into a key and unlocked your safe,
And you heard food scream when you ate it,
He did not believe you were joking.
Please believe me.
Beautiful boy, darling son.

I cannot stop the misjudgments of men.

I cannot unlock future doors to rooms I cannot visit.

I cannot contort time, though to you I am invincible.

I can remember your blue eyes before the medicine changed their color.

I can still hear you laugh in lovely innocence,

When you ask, "Is it funny, ma? Is it? Is it silly?

Beautiful Boy, Darling Son.


Linda Carney-Goodrich is a writer, mother and teacher. Her poems have been among the winners in the Boston Mayor's Poetry Contest in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Her poems "Dot Girl" and "Vodka, Beer and Cigarettes" are published in the July, 2017 anthology, City of Notions: An Anthology of Contemporary Boston Poems.