How to Care for Delicate Purple Petals — Four Poems by Martin Pedersen
December 16, 2021
All the way from Italy, Martin Pedersen presents four poems that explore memory and experience in four unique ways. From memories of a mother and a grandmother to the experience of thirst and the experience of solitude, Pedersen’s verses are characterized by a purity that arrives with age and silence.

African Violets

When mother died, the flowers she had given me died too
weird, huh?

In the library in high school the librarian, Miss Walters,
kept African violets

A sign to students: DO NOT TOUCH was meant to frighten us,
we were afraid

Not of petite flowers but of the War and dying and caskets with funerals,
lilies and flags

My mother was relieved when the War wound down in the 70’s
before I had to go

I loved my mother, she showed me how to care
for delicate purple petals
cradled in fuzzy green hands.

Bless My Heart

Bless your heart
Bless your heart
What a sweet phrase
We need nowadays —
Bless your heart
My darling one.

There are no emoji
no memes or gifs
in your memory of affection
you hear grandma say when
you hand her the homemade present
fabric scraps and glitter
pasted on poster board
showing you
to her —
Bless your heart

Grandma’s long gone
my darling one
but my heart
okay, yes,
it’s still blessed.

Broken Aqueduct

23 days no water, twenty-three days, this is seriously uncomfortable, no water, are we learning any lessons yet? how precious, it is maybe, how time flies, or does not, how to bathe oneself, from a 1-liter bottle, at 3 euros per 6 bottle pack – that’s too much plastic – they’re running out fast, doubt we will become, better people, once this is over, if it is, if we are, or enjoy a drink, in the same way.

We are not alone
it hits my tongue
and tummy
wetter, sweeter
more deliberate
more worthy
more sacred
I feel it more strongly now
I am not alone.

So, what?
thank you, broken aqueduct?


When they stay in your house
when you’re not there
clean it better than it’s ever been,
you thank your guests
for showing what a pig you are
then invite them back again.

You’re sorry now you hosted friends
in absentia (as they say in Latin)
to sit on your pot and cook in your pans.
You said make yourselves at home
a thing you say always
but please don’t wear my clothes.

Everything will be fine is just a joke
we’ve pre-booked berths side by side
like tissue boxes on a closet shelf of a Tokyo hotel.
How much quantity and quality in current relations
would the good doctor advise
to keep inner peace in one’s sight?

Friends strangers and potential flyers of kites
have worn you down like a beggar-saint
from town to town only ever wanting to stop, to sleep,
you’ve traveled across the world, tired now, tired
striding staggering crawling
into your small hard bed.

Lay on a concrete block your buzzy head
to avoid meeting your favorite guests,
if you believe or fake it into heaven
all furnishings will be comfortable and white
to remind yourself that you’ll get
enough loneliness, by and by.

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About the Contributor

<a href="" target="_self">Martin Pedersen</a>

Martin Pedersen

E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 40 years in eastern Sicily, where he taught English at the local university. His poetry appeared most recently in Adirondack Review, Better Than Starbucks, Brief Wilderness, Danse Macabre, Thirteen Myna Birds. Martin is an alumnus of the Community of Writers. He has published two collections of haiku, Bitter Pills and Smart Pills, and a chapbook, Exile's Choice, just out from Kelsay Books. A full collection, Method & Madness, is forthcoming from Odyssey Press. Martin blogs at: