Monday, June 27, 2022


English ivy clings to the red-brick walls,
but more as a lover in sensual embrace
than a prisoner scaling mortar to the meadow beyond.

My sanctuary is painted in peonies, larkspur,
evening primrose, and daylilies for annual hire.
This garden is ample enough to hold my solitary soul

and its clothes that grow more ill-fitting
as seasons slide surreptitiously from the sundial to my brow.
I sit in a slanted wooden chair and read Wordsworth

through bifocals, a cup of tea on the table by my side.
At the end of The Prelude—oh, what irony!—I close my eyes
so that I may view the mountains and valleys of the world,

and yes, the meadow, which the ivy can now see
because awareness has risen like kundalini through its sap-filled spine.
I am as free as the robin perched atop the northwest corner.

He can survey the land or fly—it’s all the same to him.
I sip the tea and open my life again,
its pages bound each to each by natural piety.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Wine-Dark Seas

Odysseus sailed the wine-dark seas
as the wind pushed his aging bark—
now starboard, now port, now starboard again—
past the sultry lure of siren song
which could spin the very clouds into lust.
He was young and then old, full of piss and vinegar
and then weary of even his own tales twice told
of leveling the the once-mighty parapets of Troy.
Upon returning to Ithaca, beard falling to his waist,
his second wind caught a second wind.
There would be no caring for the household gods,
and once again he set sail upon wine-dark seas.

I mow the lawn, put the groceries away,

and arrange my books from the tallest to the shortest.

I have leveled a good many years along the way

by simply waking up and spinning the hours like a wheel,

each with a hundred spokes, a hundred tasks

that rarely called me to draw a metaphorical sword

or adorn my chest with imaginary leather breastplates.

Still, there are evenings when the sky rolls purple

and the linnet’s wings beat a clear rhythm across twilight.

Then I am full of piss and vinegar again

and hear the long-forgotten call of a siren song.

I walk to the shore without turning back

so that I may, with a beard longer and gray,

sail upon unknown wine-dark seas.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022


This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

                        from "The Hollow Men"
                        by T.S. Eliot

It will not begin with angels peeling back the sky
as if they were opening a can of sardines.
Commuter trains will still leave New Haven on time
and find an underground home at Grand Central.

Elevators in cathedrals of glass and steel
will carry souls down through Dante’s nine circles of hell
so they can crowd the deli or find the apartment
on the Upper East Side rented to a pseudonym.

The Color Guard will parade down Main Street
on the Fourth of July, and the high strutters in white boots
will serve lemonade while Charon sits idle,
waiting to ferry drunken hardware clerks

down the River Lethe nine miles past Kansas farms and fields.
The general populace will march deeper into quicksand
or find itself knee-deep in swamp sedge
until the sky is indeed gone and darkness closes like a fist.

The firmament will disappear, though by degrees,
but only as a result of disinherited angels
who turn off their alarm clocks, shave, eat breakfast,
and learn that it is nine minutes past Armageddon.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Shed

It is late afternoon as I walk down the grassy lane
that leads to the brown wooden shed
where it is time to rest the jigsaw puzzle that is me

while the Earth rolls into darkness
in order to spin a new day that is even now
hiding far below the pine trees on the horizon.

I put my soul in the empty yellow coffee can on the shelf
and hang my wrinkled skin on a rusty nail
by heavy tools pegged on rough, uneven slats,

slumping like weary soldiers home from the war.
A faded circus poster advertising acrobats
hangs opposite the door and reminds me of a soulmate

that slipped through a crack in the wall
when I was young and life had been cursed by a witch.
Brushes and tubes of dried acrylic paint

are stored in a barrel next to the iron stove.
I have not painted a portrait or a landscape
since the time before there was a time

that reached into the soil and found enough rainwater
to produce a bumper crop of weeds and brown grass.
I open a cracked leather Bible and read

“This is my body. This is my body.”
I lie down on a neatly-folded brown Army blanket
and will sleep until the coming of dawn

unless darkness decides to hold down the fort
for an extended time and delay my resurrection
until some future golden morn.

~William Hammett

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