The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Cynthia Hogue

To Split a Lark –

(after Dickinson)

                   

                  

                    I also have suffered
                    the wonderful to die.
                             Alice Fulton


It’s not the sum of its parts,
the lark that was true
unlarks it (& that’s no lark):
not familiar it is foreign,

not known it is alien, always other
but whole, intact, itself alive.
Now it has been analyzed
to death, rendered piecemeal,

still ungraspable but also
the bird whose beauty we wished
to understand is silent this spring.
Animals to which we’re drawn – all silenced –

not unable to communicate
but beyond our (human) capacity
to comprehend, our range to hear
and speak with them too limited,

therefore we think they have
no means to “talk.” What we do
to animals to assuage our
curiosity splits the difference.

 

 

Cynthia Hogue

The Veterans

                 For J.W. and J.H. in Lewisburg, PA (2002)


Both lied about their age to get in and then they were in and

deployed. Pacific Theatre were words at 17 that didn’t
mean anything
except plays

and war was for country but the ocean was loud and
then it was red, roiling and the battle the feeling
that vast the sea
then with bodies

they had never before or since seen so many an
age since then but since then nothing was ever as
real and life
was basically –

The one ran and wrote, the other wrote and home-
steaded in the loneliest place because that was all
he could and even-
tually (starved).

Side by side they were placed, the forcible eye
contact the diffident voice of them each, the
reconnaissance
sudden

because though on different ships they were both there
(the dawning of knowing the look of the one beside
them was
a knowing

look in a place with white tablecloths and yellow walls –
the bland food – none of it mattering for they’d never spoken of

this
to anyone else.

Wizened by years, wised up, run out of why’s
because the bodies they’d worried down to
molecules
and electrons

manufacturing the chemicals of nightmares, managed
by day, emerged unbidden at night, the wanting and
not wanting to have
just jumped in

with the others they never forgot
no matter what
they did
or how.

 

 

Cynthia Hogue

“Mothers from their Windows Look”

                After a line by Susan Howe


For a last time at clouds, branches, the gravel the
grass borders near the river low in a drought killing
the corn the yellow stalks and husks in arid fields

*


For a last time from the car wherein no strength to
open the door

*


(which opens for her)


*


The grown child watching Mother take in all the
world’s beauty as it lies all before her through her
gaze when she cannot see him seeing her

*


who cannot mother who of late has set all that aside


*


The mother in the terrifying boat who cannot see
land or hardly sky for waves despite all of her
strength is drowning with her son as she tries to
hold him long enough above the water for help to
come but no one comes so she holds him holds him
high as her feet tread but she cannot last here

*


She hears the father calling “Hold him” and she
tries and then she does

*


“Hold me,” the grown child whose face frowns who
sits on the chair beside the hospital bed who strokes
the beloved arm and speaks the words he’s never
said before the words to say it though he isn’t sure
she hears

*


She hears the window he’s opening for the breeze
she still

 

 

 

CYNTHIA HOGUE is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently Or Consequence (Red Hen Press, 2010), When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina (University of New Orleans Press, 2010), and The Incognito Body (Red Hen Press, 2008). She has received Fulbright, National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. Hogue is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry in the Department of English at Arizona State University.

 

 

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