“On Being Born May 19th,” by James Valvis

Dec 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Poetry

What a joy to be born on this fabulous day, May 19th,
the same birthday as Pol Pot,
whose name doesn’t sound evil, more like something
you might make for dinner on a busy night.
Do such people celebrate birthdays?  Did Hitler? Stalin?
Do they put on party hats and wait for someone
to pass out presents?  Do they say, Aw, shucks, everyone,
you really shouldn’t have, while the others nod severely
because they really shouldn’t have?
Do they blow out candles?
Do they sing Happy birthday to you, you belong in a zoo,
with the monkeys and the donkeys and the psychopaths too?
Or is the ceaseless work of piling up skulls on shelves
too consuming to stop for chocolate cake with blue frosting?
May 19th is also the b-day of Ho Chi Minh,
so I have a theme of political revolution going on here,
and not the nonviolent kind, so thanks a lot, Mother.
Couldn’t you have hurried and pushed me out on the 18th?
I could have been born the same day as Pope John Paul II
or Brooks Robinson.  Couldn’t you hold back until the 20th
when I could have been hanging out with Jimmy Stewart?
Instead I’m born the same day as Pete Townsend,
who last I heard was on trial for owning kiddie porn.
So it’s a real horror show, these accidental connections.
But I guess considering how my mother jumped rope
trying to get me to miscarriage (this was all before
Roe v Wade), I should be happy for any birthday at all.
So thank you, Mother, for reluctantly giving me life.
Let’s get out the punch bowl, call up friends, and party!
It’s May 19th, or as it’s better known as: World Hepatitis Day.


James Valvis lives in Issaquah, Washington, where he is a professional hooky player. His poems or stories have appeared in 5 AM, Confrontation, Eclectica, Rattle,and Southern Indiana Review, and are forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Atlanta Review, Crab Creek Review, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Los Angeles Review, Midwest Quarterly, New York Quarterly, Nimrod, Pank, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. A novelette, “One of those Zombie Lovers,” was a storySouth Notable Story, and a book-length collection of his poems is due from Aortic Books in 2011. Mostly though, he’s just looking for a diet soda that doesn’t suck.

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