Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Leaving Las Vegas

It is like leaving Las Vegas, this renunciation
of neon and the megawatt blink of electric sex,

as I drive across The Painted Desert into the high mountains
of hemlock, streams, and firs, a snow-capped peak

reflecting the sun like a cold mirror.
It is freedom to leave the tawdry, tanned hookers

and their slots, dinner shows feathered with fan dancers
and live nude girls, stripping the strip of Seguro cactus,

the totems that made the brown land into a sacred scroll.
I will drink the clear mountain lake to the dregs

and inhale the invisible periphery of stratosphere,
rarified and pure and all-knowing,

the lens of God’s eye beholding that which is meant to be.
The eagle and the hawk ride the glory of updrafts,

spinning the sky into a soul that lives in a thousand layers of land.
It is good to be here, good to be where no footprint
has sullied the rocks, the grass, or the riverbed of sand.

~William Hammett

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Boat

We will go down to the sea in a ship, my love and I,
and we shall listen to whale songs in the night
and observe the treaty of dolphins and doves.

We shall lie together on the blue calm of the Pacific,
our legs entwined, our lips as moist as plums.
Together we shall man the mainsail, jib, and spinnaker

white nylon rope singing through the winch
as we leverage the boom from starboard to port
depending on where the winds of our heaving spirits merge

to send us careening across the equator’s neverending vow.
The bow will divide the waves symmetrically
as when a woman yields to desire, warm and accepting

of a male plow making fertile the rich land
while creating new waves of paroxysm and ever-cresting joy.
We will pull down sails and ride gray swells

when the tempest angles our sloop to the sky,
clouds racing like zephyrs in obedience to Olympian commands.
And when becalmed, we shall behold a thousand midnight stars

while sitting in the stern, her arm a slipknot around my waist.
How glorious to sail on an ocean seven fathoms deep,
lost with the love of my love, soul of my soul.

Such is my longing and such is my heart
when Eros touches the mariner’s art.

~William Hammett

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022


I sit on a lotus petal and observe a mountain in the distance.
It floats above the horizon like a mirage, and perhaps it is.

The flower rises from muddy water and climbs the sky
like an avatar blossoming into sevenfold salvation,

opening and closing to the royal rhythm of a rishi.
But the mountain is suddenly anchored to igneous rock,

and I am seated on a fallen tree trunk, a failed aspiration.
My path to the divine traverses rutted roads

that do not blossom into green meadows of enlightenment.
My feet gather bone dust on heel and toe, heel and toe.

I will not float to the heavens on a blue petal wing.
I shall take the long way home and study the toad and fern

and the humdrum ministrations of the potter’s wheel.
I will plumb the depths of eveningtide when humble crickets sing.

~William Hammett

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Black Holes and Poetry

Words and syllables leech into the universe
through the event horizon spinning in my brain,
a point with no location or mass, no Newtonian coordinates.

The lines come from a muse hiding in an alternate reality,
a poet squared uttering images into a wormhole,
ideas to be translated by a tongue wagging in the Milky Way.

A man and a woman walk along a shaded path
before making love in a sun-dappled green field.
A steady rain washes them like quicksilver into the next stanza,

where they exchange letters, each writing on a different continent
because of infidelity, duty, war, or an uncommon plague.
A man eating a vendor’s pretzel stands on a New York street corner.

He once owned a sunny field where he found two lovers,
naked and alone and kissing after walking along a shaded path.
He has just left his employ—stamping postmarks on letters

written by a man in New York and a woman in Rome.
The content of these missives from the heart remains a mystery,
for in that other world, where the higher poet lives,

the quantum bard has taken a break to eat tea and toast and jam.
I am a humble scribe fencing pictures from the pregnant void,
but today I dare to disturb a universe poised on the edge of a daffodil.

The man and the woman reunite and once again make love,
and it is their child who has taken the time to write this poem.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

In the Wings

The pretender stands between two black curtains,
ropes and pulleys running to the ceiling
like the rigging of a ship delivering far-fetched tales

to a land hungry for narrative escape.
Parapets and drawbridges float above his head,
scenery constructed by the author of all things below.

He listens to lines of dialogue recited on castle ramparts,
counting the beats, measuring each iambic strobe of life
before inhaling and stepping across wooden boards

into the terrible and glorious lights of the proscenium.
“The troops have arrived, m’lord!”
And then he is gone, sequestered in a dressing room

before being turned loose at the stage door.
A bus lumbers by, and he waves away exhaust
with a hand that moments earlier wore a white glove

and gestured to a prince of some dire warning of invasion.
At home, he sits on a couch in front of the TV
and surveys white cartons from a Chinese takeout

arranged like a small fortress waiting for a siege.
Tomorrow he will get a call from the author of all things below
as do we all before stepping into a world hungry for narrative,

having waited in the wings for our cue to swell a scene
and tend to matters most mundane but necessary to the show.

~William Hammett

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