Literature 8-15-2006

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Todd Pederson

Todd Pederson is the next poet in the series "What Light: This Week's Poem," a feature sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers that brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers.

Todd Pederson

Intimacy with Rain and Marlon Brando

An urge we ride like the weather
—its spate and canto—backlit
by 2:00 am television and Brando’s
steamy deportment
in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Alongside its uniform expression, how
our bedtable Tiffany seems
more a paper lantern; extravagance
a bowling joint jukebox
to its lane of dipping pins;
trimmed suburban lawns

narrow Quarter alleys
with tomcats, beer cans,
black & white cinema—
the joyful squalor
of consensual lust.

How a corner lamppost carries
its funnel of phosphorous
the way a flea market
rose box drapes
its vendor’s shoulder
like a posterboard shawl.

Flowers for the dead, for Blanche
and Belle Reve; Stella
and Mitch; for the castoff
satin pajamas
of mid-life discretion.

Roses for Marlon Brando, for
the manner of love
he and I give in the dark—reckless,
irreverent; kneeling
in the street of our hearts,

hands heavy with rain,
lace organdy;
voice like the storm
filling this room—shaking
with need, speaking your name.


For me, poetry is the response to what are often simple yet commanding occurrences—such as an affecting scene from a favorite movie. The most gratifying ideas are those that increase and reach, inexplicably, for one or more seemingly disparate elements of my life and draw them into the piece—with this poem, love; guilt and privilege; a passing lament for the recklessness of adolescence. In these moments, poetry surpasses a string of lines and stanzas written on a page; poetry becomes the medium through which I (perhaps, we) celebrate this life’s great joys, and overcome its disappointments.


Todd Pederson is a 2005 graduate of the Master of Business Communication program at St. Thomas University, and holds an undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Minnesota. He works as a technical writer for a biomedical corporation in Chaska and resides in Eden Prairie with his wife and two children, whom he thanks for their patience and inspiration. Recent works appear in Summit Avenue Review.