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Monday, July 18, 2016

Four Poems By Bruce Hakes, Jr.

Bruce Hakes, Jr. was born and raised in Buffalo, and these four poems are plucked from a narrative poetry collection he has been laboring on, about a misanthropic adolescent whose inquires into family, society, and many other spheres of the human condition lead him to a conclusion and an act, which years a journalist would attempt to understand.

Envisioning you, Johnny, instead Dying in a Car Wreak


There you laid knotted round a stop sign
in a coffin made of minced glass auto-debris blood oil
on a Easter evening your parents were sure
you all had enough fish bread water—atonement—
for a year and thought after church festivities
a steak dinner was essential to fatten up
your ascetically fleshy skinny spirit enclosures,
to stretch your achingly staunched stomachs.


Neither they nor He could prophesize a blown red-light;
a recently divorced father of two drunk driving
to the poetry of the silence of a radio turned off,
the ruff language of a bagged bottle between his knees.


What did you think before your kidlike face pierced
first through the windshield, when you were spiraling
between your Adam and Eve, to meet the serpent
on the sideoftheroad, to bite the unforgiving concrete.


Did God save you the troubles of knowing?


Hope you were laughing at one of your dad’s
odd jokes, your mom’s jauntily awkward laughter
as he swerved at 60 to avoid ruining another family’s Eden
like he did his only to thwart yours east of the garden.


Johnny, were the firefighters, paramedics, who fathers,
who soon to be daddies, gentle when they unknotted
your ungodly bent bones from the slim steel pole?
Were you alive then or were you already skybound?


Did God save you the troubles of pain?


The many walks after class after you left
were done on worm-eaten wooden prosthetics.


The many rides alone on the yellow buses
were just high doses of electroshocktherapy.


The many faces I mistook for your face
were just the false masks of a Godnotthere.


While Kneeling in the Emerald Shine


How could they shut me out?
I didn’t have to see them to know
that they, my hinderers, were there,
were chuckling behind the door
like children pulling on the coat
of a blind man and backing away
to watch as he turns round
with his cane held like a club.
Do they think I didn’t know?
Didn’t note the shadows of feet?


In that emerald shine, I bled out my compassion.
In that emerald shine, I jarred every bead of hate.
In that emerald shine, I left my humanity behind.
In that emerald shine, I got up & left the stones behind.


How could they think to be
so sloppy, so scathing and not expect
to be singled out and hung up for all
to study, to factualize, so they know
that the product of fucking
with someone who doesn’t dread
death’s unknowns, but welcomes
the boney hand that reaches through
to take us to another wasteland
is this…is this…is this…


In that emerald shine, I bled out my compassion.
In that emerald shine, I jarred every bead of hate.
In that emerald shine, I left my humanity behind.
In that emerald shine, I got up & left the stones behind.


There’s no forgiveness here,
there’s nothing here, nothing,
not going to feign like there is,
not going to mop away the cruelty,
not going to bleach the black,
there’s nothing here, nothing
but the redolence of seepage
from a trash bag bloated
with browning leftover words
left for the flies, left to ripple around me.


In that emerald shine, I descended.
In that emerald shine, I decanted.
In that emerald shine, I decocted.
In that emerald shine, he died.


Evening, almost, the Phone Rang…an Unexpected
Invitation... Got off the Chair…snuffed a Cigarette…
Slid down then Locked the Window…said… “Hello”


It wasn’t even four o’clock
when the prrr ring
prrr ring of my turquoise
wall mount kitchen telephone
exorcised me out of the desk chair
I slid nearer to the street-side window;
I hadn’t moved from since the morning.


Like a schizoid startled to speak
after trenchantly surveying, alone,
the allegorical significance of a shattered
blue/white mosaic temple jar lamp,
the dark, and the quiet ease of blood
decanting from a cut palm for hours,
or maybe days—I too had to tape blurbs
to the images of falling, concrete,
being dragged through pane glass,
sidewalk, which cycled and recycled
before my eyes—when my friend remarked:
You don’t sound right. Are you all right?


I didn’t even sound familiar to myself
when I heard myself speak words like: spider,
fly, distant, window, escape, godless, Martin, Martin…


I have said/written those words before,
but with the cord coiled around my wrist,
the connotation of each word was beset
by a cluster of ivory destroying angels: indigestible.


She smelt the unpleasant odor slinking
through the earpiece, she hushed me,
and said: We haven’t seen much of you since
you started your project. You must have drinks
with us. We are meeting up at eight at Subterranean.


I said okay, because I knew she was right.
I hadn’t seen them or felt humane in months;
those months when I squirmed, survived
barely in a tightly-woven cocoon dangling
from the webwork of his journals
repining the loss, the  hurt, the hatred.


I uncoiled my wrist after she said: goodbye,
thinking only of why I should shut the window,
take a hot shower for the next hour,
watch the clumps of silk, leaves, dirt
clog the drain—put on something
other than what I had worn for two days .


Later, when I was waiting at the bus stop
I overheard a conversation between
two mid-aged mothers—they were bartering
stories—how the one had a son who
was having difficulties adjusting to a new city,
a new climate, no friends, while the other’s
daughter couldn’t seem to garden a friendship
like normal children can—opinions
were exchange as the metro hissed to a stop.


As we turned out into the street, it occurred
to me that those women were strangers,
strangers who just retold fractions
of familial dramas that only unblossom
in a soundproof greenhouse where mothers
or fathers or both can control who knows
why some of their flowers wilt and others don’t.


Why do some flowers wilt, while others don’t?
those words…that question sashayed
about my head like a blot of locust droning
above of a stretch of wheat as I sat in a booth
at the bar next to her and I felt an urge
to ask, but kept silent because somewhere
within I knew the answer had to do something
with the laughter, the spillage, the as if nothing ever happens
we felt as we sat sipping wine among friends.


I’ll let him have the Last Word: if only to say Hello


We end up friendless, afraid, alone
when we let the phone go unanswered.
There’s always that fear of not being able to talk
about those gut details Words don’t have the prowess
to convey. Our personal aphorisms and allegories
that sum to—everything end; ends to near—get in the way
like a Great Lake that has untied two once knotted bodies.


We don’t have the endurance to swim distances
we can’t fathom. We are hoarding rocks in our coat
and pants pockets—paralysis from the neckline
down has cast away our will to coexist, to be here.


Do we only care for another when we’re drowning
in the shallows? Can all we do is watch as the other stays
in the same spot on the same rocks as we float
further beneath their eye level? Who wants to wade
in the Mid-January waters with their spindrift of a specter?


What is there to say any way when you have taken in more
ice than breath? After wasting many years in a motionless
defiance to forget that, there’s something shivering always
upon the nauseating waves—we’re still situated on our rock


thinking of the other, of how much distance, and unforeseeable
storms await for us in-between—if we step out in the water,
but in the meantime we toss pennies too far out—knowing
such a wishful gesture will give nobody any insight on how
we might subtract geography to a lesser denominator, though


the space between is too cosmic and is subject to bouts of fog
and walls of snow and frost burnt swells, yet we stay by
the seaweed edge speculating our calculations—maybe
we should have just answered the phone—if only to say hello.

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