Poem of the Week, by John Hodgen

My Mother Swimming
– John Hodgen

Chest-deep, my brothers and I, the waters of Comet Pond leaping at our little hearts
as we held on for dear life, shrivel-fingered, blue, to the cement boat dock,
as far as we dared go, the self-declared demarcation of our drowning,
our father back on the blanket, lonely as Liechtenstein, his shirt still on, always,
the polioed hunch of his back like a boat overturned on a beach,
my mother swimming alone before us, back and forth, smoothly, shining,
this one time and never again. Soon she would come in to us, gleaming,
pack up the blanket, the basket, sit like silence next to my father all the way home,
their heads and shoulders looming before us, the Scylla and Charybdis
we knew even then we would have to get past to make our way in the world.

But for now, for just this moment, she glowed. She showed us,
moving like language along the water, like handwriting on the horizon,
that even in the oceans of darkness that would come,
the long rivers of abandoned office buildings on a Sunday afternoon,
the silent crow’s-nest shadows of all the true angels of death,
the first step we would take from the train, alighting into the darkness
of our hometown, our mother and father no longer there to meet us,
their shadows long gone, run off and drowned somewhere –
There will be these moments, she said, smiling, as she turned on her back,
floating, moments like diamonds in our hands, candles on the waves,
that we could make our way to them, hold them one by one,
the gold buttons of the opera singer as he changes music into light,
the smile on the face of your lover as she closes the door and turns to you,
the twilight that gathers all afternoon in the nave of the cathedral,
the silver beads of water on the head of the baby being baptized,
the breath she takes in like a dream and lets go.


For more information on John Hodgen, please click here: http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/2010/09/john-hodgen.html

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Poem of the Week, by John Hodgen

Boy Struck by Lightning Survives
– John Hodgen


what he was


St. Elmo’s boy, St. Vitus dance,

Franklin’s poor fool left holding the key.

Call him Ahab, ensnared,

snapped up in the lines, strapped

to the quivering column of whiteness.

Call him Jonah, spewed up,

his spiked hand bleached, pointing upward,

like a Joshua tree in a desert rain.

He knows the name of the fire that has found him.

He sings the accurate God.


what he saw


Slender lines alive in the light,

the swirl of magician’s wands,

the dance macabre in the veins

of an old woman’s legs,

chiaroscuros of the blind,

eyesockets of snakes,

spun gyros, filaments,

the wrinkled skin of the air,

every jot and tittle,

the blue and red whirlygigs

pulsing on the walls of the placenta.


what he will do


The teachers will let him stare out the window.

He will dream of King Midas, his scarred hands,

of pickpockets and frightened assassins,

of the concentric grooves inside a gun barrel.

He will know the umpire’s loneliness,

the idiot’s keen delight.

He will stand by the buck fence

at the end of the clearing

and wait for the sky to fill up,

the way he will wait for his father

to come home in the twilight,

the black Buick coming lonely over the rise.

He will become a surveyor,

will move a man slowly across the horizon,

like a lost cloud that he suddenly halts,

his hand held high in the air.



For more information about John Hodgen, please click here: http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/2010/09/john-hodgen.html

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