One Sweltering Day on the Caronte

Author: • November 5, 2018 • Poems

The short man’s five rigid fingers shot energy rays

Then his hands went back into his curly hair for lubrication

Then his fingers became erect again and shot more frustration juice

He bit his marble hand, bent way over and yelled and cried

(not real tears though, don’t confuse acting with acting)

In any case, I couldn’t hear a sound locked in my glass observation booth


I did get to see the girls going at it, five or six of them

Heads down like rams, flailing

Pulling shocks of hair, slapping faces, breaking glasses

(Females know no rules)

One had a switch for herding goats,

And everybody crept up to see the show, gratis, and kibitz


Except the northern gentleman in the next car with the yellow shirt and red tie

He didn’t get out either, clicking his tongue (the animals!)

Won’t somebody exercise some authority here?

Where’s the captain, in the wine cellar?

I realized as we pulled up to Messina and the lazy peace officers came aboard

That I was a northerner too and will never grow accustomed

To this welcome home.


Included in a family not my own

I’m held in fond regard or perhaps hostage

Bondage but not blood

Blood forgives

Blood washes they say here

You don’t know what a blood is, I say

Unless you went to my high school

And stayed out of the bathrooms

I won’t go into that because

I know you can’t understand

Around a mourning table of Sicilian focaccia

Washed down with American Co’Cola

Cousins remember the rusty go-carts and funny mini-bikes of their speedy youth

The same stories told at each funeral

So that I almost feel like I was there then

But no, this isn’t my family, I wasn’t there,

I have been adopted as a houseplant

A philodendron, tall and common;

While I fancy throwing other rocks

into other rivers with other kids

Drinking and eating other stuff

[Beverly cream soda and Moon pies]

I don’t belong here.

Any more than a eucalyptus tree outside Oz,

Or Adam outside the garden, that is

So why am I here?


We are all destined in eventual generations

To exile

The undecideds always leave sometime

For their 50 miles of elbow room

And that can’t be taken back (no do-overs)

I left

My fault

I left,

as you will sooner or later

and lost I don’t know what

and gained I don’t know what

how could you?

how could I?

Only that the lust for peculiarity

means my grandchildren will call this weird place


when they leave it

on that same ferry.

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About the Author

Ceciles Writer: E Martin PedersenAuthor: E. Martin Pedersen

Country of residence: Italy

Nationality: Italian / American

Mother tongue: English

Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived in eastern Sicily for nearly 40 years. He is a dual resident and citizen, as is his Italian wife. In Messina, he teaches university English; in California, he enjoys summer hiking in the Sierras. His poetry has appeared in Ink Sweat & Tears, Muddy River Poetry Review, Former People and others. He is a 2011 alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

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