Seriously Funny
{A Bumbershoot Special Feature}

John Milbury-Steen

teaches English as a Second Language at Temple University, Philadelphia. He received a Master’s in Creative Writing from Indiana University, Bloomington, studying with Ruth Stone.

He served in the Peace Corps in Liberia, West Africa and has worked as an artificial intelligence programmer in Computer Based Education at the University of Delaware.

Among his publishing credits are The Beloit Poetry Journal, Blue Unicorn, Dark Horse, The Piedmont Literary Review and Shenandoah.

—Back to Bumbershoot Contents—

Puer Aeternus

Delayed my birth for better luck. Have held
back in the womb of academe. Have stayed
in school gestating in a book. Have learned
to be a shadow in a nook. Delay!
Eternity! Have taught myself the knack
of waiting decades for a snack. Could wait

like worms in permanent cocoons. Could wait
through everlasting afternoons. Could drive
a million miles for better signs. Waited
my youth away eons for love, trusting
she would come, but never soon. This child
actor struck for better lines. Could go

through the millennia of hands and play
poker with adopted clans, and wait
for the hand of my right genes, and I lost tons
of money and I took out loans, but I
never committed the chief of sins: getting
canned in birth like fruit in tins. I stayed

aloof and over in the cold. Stayed up
within a golden age of gold. I never
got involved, enmeshed and dulled. Then it
was only fair, when I was fouled, when time
spanked me at last into the world, as soon
I was born, I came out old, came out

at sixty, sixty! and I'm still not sure
whether this my birth was premature.