AUTUMN POEM FEATURING A STICK
It was beginning to be autumn. There were sweaters
in shop windows. People buy rakes
for the earth again. It speaks in circles, he said
when I sleep. Women take me home for supper.
I hope there will be apples, dipped
in something sweet. Let’s go swimming
before it’s too cold. Do we have to hurry, do we have to
keep track of who’s lost winter clothes
to heartbreak. It is said I need nothing but touch, maybe
a pair of shoes to keep walking into
my life as through doorways.
I have one talking stick. I will use it.
YOU MAY NEVER SPEAK AGAIN WITH A TONGUE LIKE YESTERDAY
Then the water came in boots, wearing
babies as pearls around the neck,
something inside the chest— a cold, maybe,
or a sailboat and on it, a boy catches trout
on a lake with his father for the last time.
This isn’t meant to say anything but
grief keeps itself beautiful, unknown.
MORNING POEM ABOUT ENNUI THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE THE MOON OR FREUD
The mornings feel more like bosses
standing over my desk-bed asking
about productivity. Yesterday, a coworker said
he’d rather be doing manual labor instead
of pretending to be busy with papers. I said,
Yes, I’ve thought of going to war because
I’m bored. I know this sounds selfish and
white of me. I have a Masters degree but
I live in the desert now and I try to be happy
with new recipes and my friend’s babies,
trips on the weekend to taste nature
and then leave her. The mornings
feel more like judgments or weights
coming hard on me. Don’t get me started
on what that means and how we use
each other to escape reality. I’m grateful
to know each morning is a baby in a new lake
which will never drown, no matter
how depressed it gets, no matter how many
father issues it has, no matter how many
reasons it could covet its neighbor or
how often it starts to rain or doesn’t or
how many times it goes to war with itself
on what to do for the next ten years:
each morning a baby swims to the surface
of new-lake and asks me to take it to the shore,
feed it something else like guts to get out of myself,
to get out by staying in, to get out and forgive
and keep digging trenches on which to lie in,
forever, among friends and their mortgages,
to be the secret keeper of their hearts and their
morning-babies and whisper to the dead,
This isn’t the end. This isn’t where we die.
THE SAFE HOUSE IS NOT
Then a slit through midnight
Doe-scrapes of red cloth
teeth meeting beyond
legs spread for snakes
What we anticipate
The being needed to cross
a wide canyon Only darkness
known since birth
birth removed ancient
sac broke into Anxious
ever since Time started
her red beetle-tick.
One who is sick sprints
toward the split
with knives ready as mother
to heave away what ails
the mind but what is one
to cut away The anxious
bleating goat, throat
exposed. Thoughts darken
the ground What is one
sliver of steal against ice caps.
instead of her arm
red lines are still red
Converse with hurt-bridge
construct full sentences
Don’t rip a dress or do
because you can Enter what ails
as a herd enters a round-pin
belly full before the blood-let.
Then the through-with animal
raised herself braided sweat
around her choke-hold hole
where we came come and must
enter again The last fucked
midnight It begins.
Broke open in a kitchen
the chicken’s soul met its meat
it had to understand What use
have I ever been No useless
chicken Neck stretched
into its meaningless
mother’s mouth again.
Bosnia breast-fed her broken
children to death In Texas
one eats a meal before being
Or not The girl refuses
to eat fuels her emptiness
with sex The men hunt
deer ready for her Now
the blood scent is gone
they want holes
to bury their boys She’s willing
Or not Sometimes she’s not
ready for the god
in her The woman carries
knives sacrifices her mind
to beautify earth then destroy
The swarmed tribe told the sky
Open It didn’t
The saw prayed No against
The smallest child’s collar-bone.
The meaningless happened then
turned in on itself kaleidoscope
of color until snakes tails in mouth
made themselves mean something.
Again dressed Again woman
Once child Now taken in
To a room for money Pain
an energy has to go somewhere.
The safe-house is not
safe The mesquite hides
tobacco crazed goats
The mind having nowhere to go
invents but forgets.
About the author:
Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010. She recently completed her first full-length manuscript of essays and poetry and has a chapbook in print and one forthcoming with Mouthfeel Press. She is the resident poet for Port Yonder Press’ online magazine Beyondaries and her work has been featured or is upcoming in Four Way Review, Night Train, Versal, Sugar House Review, among others. She writes in the deserts of West Texas.