I Was Young As, Once

When I was young I was as
skinny as an undernourished
sewer rat—they poured
cod liver oil down my throat
and told me it would turn
me into a man, but it tasted
like dog shit crossed with
North Sea cod sperm so I
regurgitated more than thoughts,
I regurgitated my memory and
was left feeling blank: there
was only a distant past to
refer to, and not only was it
beyond time: it was beyond me.

When I was young, freshly
born, they found me in that
rapid descent from foetus to
neonate, they found me with
two club feet. Fuck, you know,
my father likely felt like
handing me back to my
maker—but then he realised
that he was my maker, and
he would inherit me anyway,
two club feet included!
But then I smiled as they
handed me back to the nurse,
and I heard them say:
this one’s not ours, ours is
that nice one over there, the
handsome boy with feet
that are made for walking,
not talking.

When I was young, a man
kissed me, he was handsome,
he might have been my uncle,
he might have been the butcher
or the baker, or the candlestick
maker. But he kissed me,
and you know, it felt really
nice, and I wondered even

then, before I even knew I
was a boy, if I should have
been a girl, and then it
dawned on me: a kiss is a
kiss, and bliss is bliss.

When I was young, I sat
high up in a gum tree and
I defecated from branch to
ground, I was naked, I was
young. I was an orang
utan, doing what comes
naturally to orang utans.
So I went to the zoo, when
I was young, and I steered
my hormonal glaze toward an
orange flaming very hairy
monkey thing, and I said to
her or him: hey, I’m very
young, moderately confused, and
I have this powerful urge to
make out with you.

When I was young, I
whirled around the dance floor
with a young man of same
age, and it felt like, right,
and it felt like, alright, this
is it, I know who I am:
I am a young boy turning
toward a man, I see and
touch a hairy monkey, I am
at home in this jumbled
jungle of soft erotic touch,
ecstatic mood and electric
shooting feelings.

When I was young, though
it might be hard to discern:
I was younger then than now.

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)

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