August 14, 2020

Tom C. Hunley

THE FACT THAT THERE’S A SNAKE TUNNELING THROUGH MY GRASS DOESN’T MAKE THE PARTING OF THE BLADES ANY LESS BEAUTIFUL

Many things are strange. 
For example, people yawn 
when other people yawn
but usually blush or look away 
when other people cry.
All the heavy metal potheads
from high school became bankers
or lawyers or, in some cases,
well-heeled preachers.
Meanwhile, David Lee Roth,
formerly of Van Halen, 
could show up at your door
to set up your DISH TV satellite,
and you wouldn’t even recognize him,
now would you? Or you’d recognize him,
but you’d yawn, and he’d yawn
to hide the fact that he’s crying inside.
Might as well jump
like a fish that shocks the air
and is shocked by it
before diving home
to its pond stained by sunrise
as sunlight skims the surface.
Me, I’ve seen barbed wire rusting
in brittle morning light.
I’ve felt a horse’s nose
wet under my hand
and heard its snort, like wind flapping a flag.
Honest, I’ve heard a stadium exhale
as a ball landed in a glove, and I’ve spent
the car ride home trying to find
a way to describe that sound.
I’ve felt sorrow in the heart
of beauty and beauty inside sorrow.
Beauty and sorrow have rubbed together
like two sticks, blazed up, and burned me.
Speaking of the smoke signals
made by beauty and sorrow 
talking over each other, I’ve heard people
laugh when other people laugh
but it would be a lie to say 
I’ve never heard anyone laugh
as someone else cried. I need you
to think of poetry as a beautiful lie that hits
a bullseye. I’ve gazed into a bull’s eye,
seen the fierce, wounded beauty there. 
I need you to know that the sky’s
tilting from the heaviness 
of all these southbound birds
but will right itself before you 
have a chance to fact-check me on this.

from Rattle #68, Summer 2020

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Tom C. Hunley: “I started writing poetry at age eighteen after reading ‘In the Desert’ by Stephen Crane. I have now devoted more than 30 years to a study of the delicious bitterness of my heart.” (web)

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