archives spring 2009



Elegy for Roger Prynne

I recently fell overboard
during a trip from the old world to the new world when a truly
dear friend told me of his quicksand fetish and I,
mistakenly thinking he was joking
and also drunk from many brandies and also feeling the effects
of the opium in which we had partaken
and standing dangerously near
the starboard edge of the ship, too,
tossed my head back in hearty laughter
and accidentally fell backward,
head first, into the raging sea, where, due to turbulent waters
and heavy winds
and my friend being upset that I’d misinterpreted
his truly personal secret,
at which I’m sorrowfully regretful for having laughed,
the ship continued forward
without me
and I swam for weeks with the dazzling creatures of the sea
like the whale and the giant squid and the seahorse
and the jellyfish,
riding upon them sometimes,
as well as clinging to large pieces of ambergris
to conserve energy,
and living off plankton,
until finally one afternoon I washed up in Boston harbor,
near the aquarium,
which I didn’t visit because
I’d spent so much time in the sea with all its dazzling creatures,
so I visited the place where that sitcom bar is,
which is real touristy,
and ate fried potatoes near a breakdance troupe
and cleaned myself up a little
because I’d been near death at sea for the past several weeks,
and slept for a long time after that,
waking up refreshed later which was good
because there was so much to see and do in Boston!
I’m kidding, there wasn’t,
but I was thrown out of Grolier’s after browsing
for only a few minutes, which,
apparently the mean woman
who works at or owns this bookstore doesn’t like,
that is, browsing or browsers or lovers of poetry,
though she said she was quixotic, which makes no sense
because she was black-hearted and angry
like the angry, black nights I spent at sea,
surrounded by its dazzling creatures,
sometimes riding upon them
but sometimes terrified of them as well,
like when the moon is full and sharks are circling you,
and you’d think that turbulent waters would be terrifying,
and they are, but just as awful are those nights of the full moon,
when creatures are circling you,
and the sea is quiet,
and those are the nights that you just close your eyes and cry,
close your eyes and pray that it will all end soon.



I remember Ralph Williams quoting Brodsky before walking away
and you turning to ask
if I know who Brodsky is
as if Brodsky could be a first or last name, a pet
or an inanimate object
and I said no in the spirit of camaraderie
but really I knew
he’s the guy who wrote
How to Pick Up Strippers, How to Dominate Women
and How to Use Black Magic to Pick Up Women
which, years later, I purchased for you at an occult bookstore.
I’ll always remember that cold afternoon
not for Brodsky
but for an exchange I watched between two others
whom I disliked
because of their spirit of elitism
which they celebrated in the spirit of camaraderie,
an exchange which reminded me of a teaching assistantship I had
where my only duty was to grade the final exam,
where the teacher didn’t give any guidance
for how students should answer other than not to grade too hard
and grade all fifty in one day
because he’s going out of town on Tuesday
which I did
but was later admonished for not grading hard enough
while he praised himself for grading the final paper
hard enough that my exam grades didn’t matter anyway
so it was okay
but I could never say anything about this to anyone
because he was the director of the undergraduate program
and I knew someday
I might need him to not be my enemy
though I know now that it wouldn’t have mattered
and enemy isn’t the right word
but I can’t think of the right word.
I can’t believe that was almost ten years ago.
I can’t believe how young I was
or how even though I know I’m different now
I feel so much camaraderie with the me of ten years ago
even though I don’t agree
with most of my life choices at the time.
How I dreamt to be either loved or killed
and how each day became an opera
in which to perform that dream.
I wish I could remember what happened next.
I wish I could remember what happened next but I can’t.
No. All I can do is imagine you
riding home on your bicycle to wherever you were living at the time
and me walking home under the gray sky
to wherever I was living at the time, where I’d wash my face,
eat a sandwich and watch television, completely unaware
of what would happen in my life next.


Jason Bredle is the author of two books of poetry and one chapbook. He lives in Chicago and works in the patient reported outcomes translation industry.