By: Jonathan Koven
I was a harbinger of loss. I was
twenty-six years younger with snails for brains. I recalled the origin’s solace before breathing a word. When the deadbolts twitched in Mommy’s heart, I’d greased their jangle, the guardian of an endless sound inside. Dared to remember as the white lights wrapped me in repose, I wasn’t screaming
when I’d left the womb.
New York, late August. First word: flower. I hummed the theme of Titanic. I was not a scaredy-cat; I was proud to be
an American, harbinger of doubt.
I was promised the chance to see Buenos Aires of a past generation. Instead, I heard bombs gurgle on television.
I was counting my Pokemon cards when
the World Trade Center was destroyed. I was content keeping quiet for the Pledge of Allegiance; unseen, untouched, under the haystack,
I was twenty-six years old.
The twilit shore of Montauk rejoiced
when I tasted its salt. I remembered
everything I’d tried to forget. I was waiting
for this moment and it has waited for me. I held the mainland
in my arms and kissed,
Don’t hurt me again.”
Jonathan Koven lives in Philadelphia with his fiancée Delana and their cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. His other short fiction and poetry can be found in The Lindenwood Review, Pub House Books' Gravitas, Something or Other Publishing's 25 Servings of SOOP, and Paragon Press' Echo. His debut fiction novel, Below Torrential Hill, has been excerpted in American Literary and Toho Journal. He is currently querying Below Torrential Hill for agent representation.
"When I first wrote this poem, I had been reading a lot of John Ashbery. My intent is to explore an American narrative of losing one’s patriotism—that of believing in a promised, mythicized sense of liberty and observing beyond that guise—yet desperate to hold onto that innocence. A couple fun facts about me in this poem:
I was born in Staten Island, New York in late August.
My first word truly was “flower.”
My mother was born in Buenos Aires and moved to America when she was young."