By Accident

First she gave me the wound by accident.
Then the tourniquet she tied unwound by accident.

Your friend may want to start running.
I gave his scent to the hounds by accident.

Balloons on the mailbox, ambulance in the driveway.
Bobbing for apples I drowned by accident.

Did someone tell the devil we were building Eden?
Or did he slither on the grounds by accident?

I said some crazy things, but I swear, officer,
I burned her place down by accident.

Only surfaces interest me.
What depths I sound I sound by accident.

“What should we look for in a ghazal, Amit?”
Inevitabilities found by accident.

Amit Majmudar
Antioch Review
Special Issue: Memoirs True and False
Fall 2006


This is my first poem posted that was actually the poem of the day, rather than from the archives.  Ghazal, I had to look up.  Here is the definition:

n. [Ar. ghazal.] A kind of Oriental lyric, and usually erotic, poetry, written in recurring rhymes.

This tells me that someone (a student?) was asking the author what to look for in a poem, and the part about recurring themes clearly helps explain the repetition of “by accident” (as if poetry needs justification!).  To my taste, this repetition is right on the edge; I like it, but I’m quite close to thinking it’s too much.

 Amit (as the poet names himself in the poem, I have the unique luxury of conflating speaker with author without risk) seems to be giving examples from various different scenarios, each compelling, each poetic in their terse power, rather than forming a full narrative.  I enjoy the technique.  The various examples sometimes seem like real accidents and sometimes are obviously not.

 I don’t understand the idea of inevitability here.  Equating an accident with something inevitable is certainly very ironic and interesting, but I don’t see the poem as proving or exploring this directly.  It is the sort of poem I wish I could speak to the author of.

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