Control Groups

                        --for Alyssa Apsel

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

Group A accepts
what they cannot change.
Group B fights
it at every step of the way.
Group C takes
a placebo of apathy.

While we wait for results, woman,
let me offer you a bowl
of old wives' tales,
from one who is young and never-married.
Life is not a hypothesis to be proven.
You eye me and my group
with guarded envy, and sometimes
I eye you and your group
with outright jealousy.  Some lab
rats get all the luck.  But
let us step out of this experiment.
Quickly, girl, quickly.

Group A is given
ambition and no goals.
Group B is given
goals galore as well as sloth.
Group C is given
a crossword puzzle.

You must not be so angry
when your hand does not fall where
you intend it.  It is not the
hand's fault.  It is not the arm's
fault.  Your mind may be quick,
but often you forget about
the other hand, the other arm.
Control groups are meant
to be crashed, like parties--
why hide in one cage
and never see how the other one
lives?  Life is much more interesting
than a maze: you will find
your reward, more than a capsule
of freeze-dried protein,
when you least expect it.
And happiness is never
controllable, sane, diagnosable.
We have pointed and laughed at the insane
without having ever experienced
their joy.  When we point and laugh,
we often look like mad-women,
but with tidier hair.

Group A finds happiness
hardened and stuck beneath their shoes.
Group B finds happiness
in the bottom of a dirty tea cup.
Group C finds happiness
NEVER! NEVER! but doesn't notice.

I don't know why we run
these experiments.  More often
than not, we falsify data so
we can finish early, we switch rats
while the other is not looking.
There is a poet and artist in everyone,
even those hiding in crisp,
white lab coats.
You are never a failure--
you are writing your life's narrative,
and unlike a lab report,
it doesn't have graphs or margins
of error.  Life's narratives
are much uglier sometimes.
If not for modern technology,
it could get even uglier.

Everything can be divided up
into two groups:
what you can control, what you
can't control.  The best way to
deal with this is
to forget how to divide,
run away from all calculators,
run away from computers
and abacuses,
run away, run away with me ...

Group A
grows old and dies.
Group B
grows old and dies.
Group C
steals all of our federal grants and runs away to Barbados.

Who knew?

31 March 1994
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