Press "Enter" to skip to content

Prompt: Toys

Dolls by ErikaWittlieb

I have a new granddaughter and so I now have an excuse to play again with toys. It would be the rare adult who doesn’t have at least a few strong emotional attachments to some childhood toys. Although I am a collector of things, I have very few toys from my childhood. There were some that survived to be toys for my two sons – such as my Matchbox cars – but the toys I have the fondest memories of have vanished – a stuffed lamb and dog, my “medical bag” for playing doctor (often on that lamb and dog).
Having your own children or grandchildren is a wonderful excuse to shop in toy stores, buy toys (perhaps ones you want more than the child) and play again.
My favorite toy poem is “Kinky” the title poem from Denise Duhamel’s collection Kinky (Orchises Press, 1997). I thought of her poem recently after reading that Mister Potatohead is no longer a “mister.” Now he can be Mr., Mrs., Ms. or whatever combination you want. Of course, it’s not like kids haven’t already playing gender games with this and other toys.
 In Duhamel’s poem, Barbie and Ken dolls are brought to life and: 
…decide to exchange heads.
Barbie squeezes the small opening under her chin 
over Ken’s bulging neck socket. 
It’s not something I didn’t see my older sister do with her dolls. It even shows up in the Toy Story film series both as villains who make hybrid dolls and as those hybrids come to life. Duhamel’s dolls don’t go in the direction of evil but rather to the kinky side.
The two dolls chase each other around the orange Country Camper 
unsure what they’ll do when they’re within touching distance. 
Ken wants to feel Barbie’s toes between his lips, 
take off one of her legs and force his whole arm inside her.

You don’t have to tell us (maybe tell your therapist) about any strange fetishes you may have acted out with your dolls or action figures, but this Barbie and Ken (who Duhamel reminds us have “only the vaguest suggestion of genitals”) finally get to act out some of their repressed feelings.
Soon Barbie was begging Ken 
to try on her spandex miniskirt. She showed him how 
to pivot as though he was on a runway. Ken begged 
to tie Barbie onto his yellow surfboard and spin her 
on the kitchen table until she grew dizzy. Anything,
anything, they both said to the other’s requests,
their mirrored desires bubbling from the most unlikely places.

But our writing prompt this month is not necessarily dolls or anything kinky but rather simply TOYS. What are your memories of them? What is your current connection to them? How did they fuel your young and now adult imagination?

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2021.  Please read our submission guidelines.


Visit our website at poetsonline.org