Dennis Doherty

At my birth, Sputnik penetrated space and 

The Beatniks penetrated suburbia.

Then the enemy was in a place called

Cuba and the president got shot. First thing

they gave me to suck on was the news.


When I was born I realized that adults

were liars, and teachers, hypocrites.

The local police learned my features,

so I hitched the continent twice

and learned the face of America.


When I was born I woke up naked

in the Plaza Hotel with a newly bald head,

beaten into subterfuge, craftiness,

with mental strength and an older woman

beside me wearing my dog tags.


I was born in the belly of a warship

as it shuddered out of drydock

to a GONZO tour at sea, saw other

young men give themselves to the swells

forever, considered limitations.


When I was born the doctor grabbed

me by the lapels and shoved my face

near my dying mother’s bed. “Do you

know who this is?  Tell me!” he commanded her.

Trembling for wrong answers, she asked, “No?”

I don’t remember the color of her eyes.

The color of her eyes was fear.


I was born into fatherhood. “I didn’t

ask to be born!” I protested. “Too Dad!”

they replied. I woke up mornings

with three girls in the bed. They sewed

on my muscles and straightened my head.


When I was born I’d lived a long span.

The speech of things new, a friend

to open with the strangeness of song.

We touch who we know with the stroke

of a breath–a pen. I’ll take you

to the ocean, but bring you back again.


I am born into answers for which

only I asked in the dark of my poem,

the magus of interstice and meaning,

molting into the bravery of learning,

alone in the cosmos with a given name:

a god-eye for re-cognition and time.

I’ve birthed a world which we might call love.






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Shawangunk Review Volume XXXII Copyright © 2021 by Dennis Doherty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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