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By Russell Edson

After a series of indiscretions a man stumbled homeward, thinking, now that I am going down from my misbehavior I am to be forgiven, because how I acted was not the true self, which I am now returning to. And I am not to be blamed for the past, because I’m to be seen as one redeemed in the present…

         But when he got to the threshold of his house his house said, go away, I am not at home.

         Not at home? A house is always at home; where else can it be? said the man.

         I am not at home to you, said his house.


         And so the man stumbled away into another series of indiscretions…


Russell Edson, “The Unforgiven,” in The Wounded Breakfast © 1985 by Russell Edson and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. www.wesleyan.edu/wespress

Source: The Wounded Breakfast (Wesleyan University Press, 1985)

Poet Bio

Edson studied art early in life and attended the Art Students League when he was 16. In the 1960s he began publishing poetry; since then, he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Russell Edson’s prose poems are often populated with strange and intriguing figures: a woman fights a tree, a mother serves ape. The poems are surreal and fablelike, sometimes resembling brief plays. He lived for many years in Stamford, Connecticut.

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