Post Road Magazine #16

Birthday

by Kim Goldberg

I was born in 1969—Year of the Rooster, of Woodstock, of electric Kool-Aid, of Country Joe booming There’s three hundred thousand of you fuckers out there, I don’t know how you ever expect to stop the war if you can’t sing any better than that!, of Captain America getting shotgunned off his hog at the end of Easy Rider,pile of sunnysideup fragments left to sizzle on the skillet of some hate-filled southern highway – or rice paddy (no, those movies came later, we were still living it then), I was born on the day I quit high school, on my fifteenth birthday, crashed out the vacuous double-doored vagina of Marshfield Senior High in Coos Bay, Oregon, take your stinkin’ hall pass and shove it you dork-face fascists, the fucked-up world needs me today not after graduation, I’m my own teacher now, if I meet the Buddha on the road I’ll be killing that self-righteous little prick (but I just ended up shooting a bunch of drugs and swiping various TVs and a car or two, which somehow seemed revolutionary at the time, but it worked out okay because it gives me something to write about in my twilight years).

I was born in 1954—Year of the Horse, of America’s top court ordering desegregation, of an eight-pound space rock beaning an Alabama lady listening to her radio (the country ain’t safe for no one these days!), of an eight-pound baby shooting into the sacred heart (or an edifice so named) of the corporeal world between a shapely pair of legs (or more likely was yanked in since I was born breech, but it worked out okay, I mean I don’t have any visible impairments or anything).

I was born in 1970—Year of the Dog, of Apollo 13 (which was a dud), of Lunokhod 1 (which wasn’t), of blood-spattered Korea fronting for Vietnam in Altman’s M*A*S*H (because we were still living the other one), year of lights-out at 9:00 in Villa Saint Rose, some nun-run Guantánamo for wards of the state, the year I hauled my bell-bottomed paisley ass over the twelve-foot wall one night, shredding a forearm on razor wire, beating feet to I-5, getting off at Eugene, getting lost in the lotusland of deadheads and yogurt and acres of bean sprouts, scoring fake ID to keep me off the radar till I turned eighteen (which worked out okay, although the name Smith wasn’t very creative for a future writer, so that’s when I decided it’s best to figure out your aliases before you spark up).

I was born in 1954—but earlier than the other one so it was still Year of the Snake, of the navy’s first nuclear sub, of atomic tests on BikiniBABOOMAtoll, of the puke-sweet stench of electrocuted flesh still clinging to the air like a spring thunderstorm washing the nation clean of those commiejewspies the Rosenbergs, I was born to the shapely vowel sounds of a leggy young woman speaking Middle English from four centuries ago, a young bride full of hope and cultural programming and Dr. Spock, reading all seven books of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene to the unborn first child inside her, tuning unformed ears, weaving harmonic resonances into spongy fetal tissues, smooth as a parabola, rhythmic as amniotic tides, perchance to yield a poet (and that seemed to work out okay too, although there are those who say the prose poem is not really poetry).

I was born in 1913—Year of the Ox, of some Danish guy flaunting his quantum model of the atom (which led to some harsh radioactive shit later on), year that they locked up Gandhi, that my grandfather Solomon Goldberg strode down the gangplank and onto Ellis Island, scarcely more than a teenager, nothing to his name but a torn topcoat and pocketful of Yiddish – and a dream that became his own chemical company until World War II, when the US Army recruited him to translate design plans on fighter planes to give the Russians (who were our allies back then and sort of are again now), that was the year I was born, for had Sol not hopped that steamer from Lithuania and brought his childhood sweetheart, they both would have ended up in the mass grave with the rest of the tribe thirty years down the line, along with their son Philip Abraham, currently known as my astrophysical father (so this one definitely worked out okay).

I was born in 1972—Year of the Rat, of Life magazine’s death, of Nixon’s contaminated re-election, year that The Godfather tommygunned its way into our heads (since Coppola wasn’t ready to make Apocalypse Now because we were still still living it), year that my family pulled up tent pegs and moved to Canada to save my brother from Vietnam, this boy ain’t made to kill or be killed said the Faerie Queene with the sacred heart (which worked out okay for everyone because people in Canada are super polite and have very few guns and smell nice too, maybe because it’s colder – I even took up hockey).

I was born in 13,700,000,000 BC—Year of the Quark, of the gaseous outpouring, of the time-warped contractions of the universe unformed, the first fart in the first billionth of a second after the Big Jack-off, it was pretty confusing for a while, like some over-amped flashback with streaking lights and kick-ass tidal waves of blackness all slamming into each other in a cosmic mosh pit (Stanley Kubrick got it more or less right so I am assuming he was swirling around in there too), and then a shitload of head-banging boredom for what seemed like eons (and probably was) at the bottom of a wormhole with nothing to read but some half-baked frequencies, just a bunch of fuzzy squiggles not even trying to pull themselves together, kind of like being stuck in juvie at Coquille where they stuff you in a five-by-eight box for weeks and only let you out for forty-five minutes a day to play pool or thumb Reader’s Digest, I mean how fucked up is that? (but I got through it somehow, this stellar cumshot, so I guess it worked out okay, in fact I really like stargazing now and I know most of the constellations, but that could be because my uncle is an astronomer – it’s tough to get a handle on causality).

I was born, and it worked out okay.

 

Kim Goldberg is a poet, author, and journalist on Vancouver Island. Her articles and essays on politics and current events have appeared in Macleans, Canadian Geographic, Georgia Straight, the Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, New Internationalist, and numerous other magazines in North America and abroad for more than twenty years. She has recent poetry and prose in PRISM International, the Dalhousie Review, Nimrod International Journal, CALYX, Tesseracts, the Arabesques Review, and other literary magazines. Her latest book, Ride Backwards on Dragon: A Poet's Journey through Liuhebafa, was released last September from Leaf Press (www.leafpress.ca).

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