Summer 2009

Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 2


Poetry    Essays    Translations    Fiction   

Michael Pedersen


June 16th 1984-- Birthday

The same morning I discovered Plath
And Hughes wed on my birthday, my sister’s
Too, I started reading Birthday Letters, trudged
In record snows with slight fever, missed the train, lost
You and wrote a poem beginning ‘I am broken
Like glass bottles’-- which talks of red eyes
Pointless ripostes, wrong turnings and black holes;
The, poker-hot, cinders of troubled minds.

On my 22nd I flew to Delhi, bussed it to Vashist
Chasing you that cut me loose, from where I hung
Content as plant in basket. It could have been
Jerusalem, Jaffna, Jupiter, I’d still have gone,
Still have packed my things inside the bag I borrowed
With adrenalins and stomach sirens blaring:
To red dust tika sunrise, through brimming bead market
Where henna printed hands contort for rupees
Amongst new shades of Himalayan
Light and dark.

Within 6 short months of this rescue mission
I’d coined a whole new fleet of commotions
And there, subverted, you found yourself
In the driver’s seat, of a crashing plane
Or thrashing bull (on a good day).
No panic button, no safety harness
So I understand, the ‘gone for good’
At Christmas, then once more the year following
When the torment came flooding back
Like the panic of blindness under water
Like the fear of drowning.

You were all directions, plugged
Into my live currents, panacea for poorest
Attributes. Perhaps that’s not completely true
But it roughly fits and I am left curious,
Where should I varsity, now my poetry
Can’t take your charity hand-in-hand?
Skip together, to where they’re housed together
To where they bleed and cry, unjudged
Like things newborn, battling enormity
From their opposite corners.

I remember my 16th, unwrapping Ulysses
To discover Bloomsday too, on June 16th
Clapped eyes on a brochure boasting
‘Dublin’s literary zenith’: join penchants
Of language for Irish lore, dancing
Twirling jig, slip, single-treble-step
To a 6/8 metre, eat sausage pudding
Single-treble measure, roost
And read in races, voice blasting
Open-air, Celtic singsonging.

How I yearn to be clean, unharmed
Harmless; before the heart’s chambers
Were loaded, dangerous like drunks with pistols.
Fully promise, I never knew what was coming
At 18, iron willed, I thought I had it made
This terse gospel and I had found a nest, above
The tower blocks and tombstones and dark trees
Bearing fruit. These chewable totems, fixed
All towns’ broken yolks. And then, I saw it
Crow-black, gaping shadow...
.....In my sun.


© Michael Pedersen



Poetry    Essays    Translations    Fiction   

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