Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Birthday Interviews

Mom said, I want to name him Patrick. Dad said,
He looks like a frog. The moon said, waning
crescent. The thermostat said, It’s South Florida.

Cumulonimbus clouds were not in attendance.
Mosquitos said, sugar of life. The night said, Welcome
young blood. Magazines in the waiting room said,

Jackie O and Charles & Di and Axl Rose and Cher
and Madonna and Oprah, skinny in a sparkling purple
gown, is the richest woman on TV. Ebony said,

25 Years After The Civil Rights Act of 1964
What Has and Hasn’t Changed? “Batdance” played on
the radio. The TV said, War on Drugs. The TV

said, Drought. The TV sang, Thank you for being a friend,
travel down the road and back again. Dade County said,
snakes and amphibians mangled by lawn mowers.

The United States said, The life expectancy of black men
is 64.8 years. 1989 said the following for the first time:
latte, caffeinate, cyber porn, viral marketing, Generation X.

Karen was the last thing the Atlantic Ocean said
that hurricane season. Voyager 2 said of Neptune,
What is this ring? What is this Great Dark Spot?

Saturn in Capricorn squaring Venus in Libra said,
Hello small bachelor, here’s your near fetishistic desire
for classical beauty; said it’ll take your Saturn Return,

a whole revolution, to begin loving yourself. Jesus
didn’t say anything but a senator said He did.
On a break, the attendant nurse bought a Dr. Pepper

from the vending machine. Then she went outside
with her menthols and Walkman to listen to self-help tapes.
The cassette skipped and skipped and skipped.

Credit


Copyright © 2021 by Derrick Austin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“It’s only in the past few years that I’ve been comfortable writing explicitly about my personal life. It’s still very much new territory. But recently, I was tasked with writing a poem about the day of my birth, and that is how ‘The Birthday Interviews’ was born so to speak.”
Derrick Austin

Author


Derrick Austin

Derrick Austin is the author of Tenderness (BOA Editions, 2021), winner of the 2021 Isabella Gardener Award. He is the recipient of fellowships from The Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing and Stanford University. He currently lives in Oakland, California.

Date Published: 2021-05-04

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/birthday-interviews