Paul Hoover: 5 poems

  Paul Hoover

  5 poems

  The Urgency

‘The ghosts with names and the ghosts with none’
 — Michael Palmer

the tree in heat
the burning tree

the cat on fire
the urgency

shadow hat
hat worn flat

future — past
dust in advance

carry me home
beyond the bone

dolls on the bed
one playing dead

they are not,
and they are air

float on up
or take the stairs

minds are windows
winds have rows

the word false
is also true

kill me twice
shame on you

why the night
and light go under

speaking from
the heart’s penumbra

standing tall
is not a science

what’s a color
why’s a sight

torrents, pools
a fool’s forever

first the image
then the rain

light of science
scent of pears

the sun is raw
the moon is new

first the marriage
then the weather

push the car
and crash the carriage

hysterical cleric
untold tale

bearing witness
names are blameless

crucifixion or
a game of tennis

cross the valley
swim the ford

flesh has answered
bone’s on hold

did we ever
when’s undone

in Fargo, in
the Target store

  Repetition and Difference

‘The infinite resources of the thickness of things’
 — Francis Ponge

swept snow and kept it.
      empty arms waving.
birds erased by wind.
      a journal of aesthetics.

a train is the ghost.
      slipping through the zoo.
the fog itself is warm.
      too primitive to be dreary.

cold mountain beings.
      wearing stone clothing.
the history of empty space.
      steaming at the table.

the modern world is tender.
      snow on all its owls.
to sing an empty room.
      go to bed scowling.

a sensuous apprehension.
      leaps the world’s meanings.
what do you mean boulders.
      along the doorway border.

he called it diamond silence.
      hidden by its brightness.
river and its ladder.
      sun falling on your knees.

a roaring river fire.
      house key in the snow.
must be silence walking.
      in three-word groups.

comparable to water.
      a white trackless skyway.
dogs sleep on the road.
      beneath the sound of scree.

among the honey jumpers.
      bleary to the bone.
it’s warm underground.
      her lovely snapping eyes.

the world’s leaf laden.
      that’s a yellow path.
handprint on the window.
      it’s never egret season.

an oath before we sink.
      punching holes in water.
blue lupine eyes.
      and for a common cause.

eternity’s going slow.
      about to take the corner.
who’s immortal now?
      the stove’s about to go.

another ragged actor.
      your permanent shadow.
naked in that realm.
      all laughter is solemn.

distance is in ribbons.
      don’t hurry falling down.
it was called the lipstick riot.
      I heard strains of music.

the unaccountable stars.
      tell a public secret.
crayfish and momentum.
      sleeping isn’t resting.

resemblance is a peach.
      the sunlight’s whipping now.
a valley three states wide.
      and not a single fire.

a life of ledge walking.
      seems so normal now.
no tree falls inward.
      I’m your gun for hire.

the campfire takes a walk.
      across six mountains.
stands near the lake.
      screaming at the bees.

river approaching heaven.
      glamorous yellow aspens.
it’s snowing in the song.
      soon the empty words.

spread of pine needles.
      wet feet on concrete.
eternity’s not a game.
      the seasons are amazing.

sea greenness and the journey.
      dreaming at the gate.
are we in or of the dance?
      a handsome secret man.

the shadow of your smile.
      fracture of your hand.
comparisons are listening.
      blue eyes down the line.

appetite is enough.
      he summarized an owl.
assiduous imperfections.
      snow bank and white towel.

shadow and actor.
      I sat down on the fire.
the plums were overripe.
      the place seemed familiar.

beauty isn’t endless.
      thought dies on the tongue.
nothing is transparent.
      everything half done.

what’s original now?
      immediate but distant.
naming every gesture.
      history is the vestige.

overflow of powerful grammar.
      waste product: contemplation.
a series of vivid abstractions.
      flourishing off the page.

the god of disproportion.
      moves in fictive time.
a thought on her face.
      submerges once again.

the desperation to mean.
      lucidity and madness.
what does ‘ought’ propose?
      moral reserves on empty.

the grass is at attention.
      a faucet steadily drips.
the light behind an object.
      needs no complication.

why is heidegger quiet?
      where’s the emperor tonight?
watching with steady eyes.
      nothing thinking something.

  What Do Drones Know?

‘Dwelling, in the proper sense, is now impossible.’
 — Adorno

The body with the bullet in it
has not ceased bleeding;
corruption is setting in,
changing every aspect
of our residual friend.
A corpse travels far;
its molecules speed furiously in,
like a sparrow in Ohio,
an arrow in Pasadena,
where I mirrors eye.

We feel the dust all over us.
It arrives every second,
bringing dander and disquiet.
It falls on the leaves of plants
and on the harp playing.
Low men and tall women,
we’re going nowhere fast,
offering little resistance,
backs against the wall.

The rice that fell
on the bride and groom
created time one afternoon,
as rivers create evening
and the bridge invents the span.
The smallest things are sacred—
mica that makes the glaze,
the coral and glass in sand—
and the largest are corporations.

But we are green and driven.
We suffer the image,
endure peace by raging
and are beaten by our songs
within an inch of being.
Only the fragment is whole.
The boy who sings Madonna
mouths the music as if chewing.
Slow music, deliberation—
because he desires, he is on his way.

  ‘I Am the Size of What I See’

 — Fernando Pessoa

You hurry but you are late
to every party and dinner date,
so naturally they begin without you.
Like a pale leaf through the window,
you make your entrance secretly.
Now you can shine in the corner
as quietly as any leaf,
rarely speaking and then in puzzles;
in English when they are Spanish,
in cliff — edge when they are hanging.
They are the size of what they see,
swimming in their vocabularies
of desire and principal interest.

You’re a bird too young to fly,
a map without its pink and salmon.
You’re so late you arrive on time,
and later slip out unnoticed,
not even a smudge on your glass.
They never knew what passed them.

You walk to the absolute corner,
where the roof of the sky
meets the limit of the eye
and a breath lasts a lifetime.

Beautiful dreamer,
you’re the size of what you see.
The sky is the size of the sky,
and the sun is just the sun.
But a tree is the size of the flame
you hold in your fingers.

What shirt to wear to eternity
and tomorrow to dinner?
And what size will it be?
You’re asking while you can.
There are things you can’t forget
like the life before this one.

  My Dog Is Wild

He scratches the earth
to bury his bone
as others do paper
to bring up a word.

My dog is pleased
when I scratch his head,
but has a wild insistence
that he is the master
and I’m his servant.

He sleeps like a bog,
but now and then
he runs in his dreams
after something.
I can see from his teeth
the excitement.

I sit on the bed in my house
on a street they forgot to name.
My red dog runs through the night
until he breaks through.

It’s then the night brightens,
in truth and in trial,
as if it were in flames.
My dog resides in a world
that dims and flares and dims.

We do what we must do,
in and out of the cycle.
We stand together, howling,
at the bleeding station
on Peephole Street.

We’re mirror — image beings
of a post — philosophical age.
Our summers are loud with bees.
Our winters crack to pieces.

We are not distracted
by the traffic of sun and moon.
In the palace of our retirement,
my dog whispers to me,
even the earth is passing.


Paul Hoover has published fifteen books of poetry including Desolation: Souvenir (2012) and the forthcoming chapbook from Legend (Little Red Leaves Textile Series). His translation of The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz, with Maria Baranda, will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2017.


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