Poems by E. Martin Pedersen

Pic by Bekah Allmark



3 Hours in the Pediatric Ward

babies crying
but not my baby, she’s okay
each mother’s eyes full of empty
fear for their creatures
but they’re not my baby’s mother’s eyes
in 180 minutes in pediatrics I saw:

               eternity                        philosophy
               shooting stars               astronomy
               the grim reaper             mythology
               a big clock on the wall    symbology

playing cards, watching TV
cigarette ashes tapped onto the floor
the nurses can’t be bothered
you need some medicine—I fear
we don’t have medicine here
ask somebody else
huddles of relatives having a good ol’ time
talk talk talk, cry cry cry
every baby crying, they don’t stop
but they will.

we scooted longleggedly out of there
probably left some things behind
didn’t look under the bed
for infant fear of monsters
outside my baby just stopped crying
and started breathing again
pull a breath, pull a breath
we left the steel beds and the pale green paint
the thick sheets and the stupid expressions
and the ignominious spiritelles
of other poor little babes
each a mother’s love.

Broken Aqueduct

23 days no water, twenty-three days, this is seriously uncomfortable, no water, are we learning any lessons yet? how precious, it is maybe, how time flies, or does not, how to bathe oneself, from a 1-liter bottle, at 3 euros per 6 bottle pack – that’s too much plastic – they’re running out fast, doubt we will become, better people, once this is over, if it is, if we are, or enjoy a drink, in the same way.

           We are not alone
           it hits my tongue
           and tummy
           wetter, sweeter
           more deliberate
           more worthy
           more sacred
           I feel it more strongly now
           I am not alone.

                So what?
                thank you, broken aqueduct?


Crib Talk

         Back in diapers again
The ladies come to wipe my crack
I crack jokes
They laugh politely
I’m treated with respect
Called ‘Doctor’
Yet when the modern doctors drop by
They don’t have time to chat
They check my vitals
Make a note
Ask if I have any family
I’m left with TV I don’t want
Talk I can’t manage
        Kleenex and straws.


The Way Things Really Are

The way things really are —
A candle stands beside a cat
     on an 18th century European
Walnut corner cabinet
     used to hold wine
     and wine glasses
The cat jumps up
     for better observation
     when the room is dark.
All are asleep including the cat
That’s jumped down
     onto a pillow
     leaving the candlestick alone.
Carefully it begins to move
     to stretch
     to bend
To walk around even
     on top of the walnut.

We expect a tap dance
     or the Charleston
After this equivalent
     of ‘yard’ to a prisoner
     a privilege already
It’s back on its holder
     straight and still
     wax before melting
Never to cause
Of the way things really are.


About the Author

E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 40 years in eastern Sicily where he taught English at the local university. His poetry appeared most recently in Blacktop Passages, Millennial Pulp, Scrittura, Albatross Review, and Harbinger Asylum. Martin is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He has published two collections of haiku, Bitter Pills and Smart Pills and a chapbook, Exile’s Choice, just out from Kelsay Books.