Friday, October 28, 2022


The future astronomers gesticulate and talk
about supernovas and questions swallowed by black holes
while lit majors try to unravel the Gordian Knot

that is the streaming prose of Joyce and Proust.
Two lovers speak of biology, their arms encircled
around each other’s waists like a double helix

as they silently rehearse the spiraling pleasure
they will take when the clock tower chimes two.
The dusty chalkboard behind me is littered

with numbers and Greek letters I do not understand.
I move to the sash window, paint flakes on the floor,
and look again at the brilliant white sidewalks

crisscrossing the quad as if it were a Union Jack.
Everyone below is an equation trying to solve an equation.
I study the branches of a salacious sycamore

a few feet from the pane of glass, the veins
of each green leaf a roadmap to creation’s cause.
In an old wooden desk, I sit and break the spine

of an analog textbook to read a line from Wordsworth.
There is really no pressing mystery to be solved
on this day dyed in deep shades of spring.

My mind wanders lonely as a cloud
in a room where idleness, no longer quadratic, is allowed.
For me, the world is a sum that has been reconciled—

the numbers and Greek letters now align—
to the right of some cosmic equals sign.

~William Hammett

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Friday, October 21, 2022

The Old Man and the Cart

He pulls his wooden cart through the alleys of a city.
He is old and gray, and yet his arms are long and limber,
rotating like bicycle pedals as he gleans treasure
from lives cast off helter-skelter on backwater stone:

a pair of shoes, a crooked table, pulleys and chain,
a self-portrait by an artist who had little self-esteem.
There is no such thing as junk to this connoisseur of nuts and bolts,
of chicken wire or wooden spindles that clattered in looms

and machines that hummed and turned into inventors’ dreams,
bric-a-brac becoming threads that weave the tapestry of a king
on a castle wall or a hovel where the embroidered feathers
of a peacock may spread wide in diversity and sing.

The man brings the day’s bounty to a barn at the edge of town.
Come sundown, the people of the city will, like mice
running in the dark, pick clean this multiplicative museum
in order to add to their own collections of the world reborn:

a toy, a milking stool, or a tattered virgin’s gown.
Such are the acts of God as he collects chapter and verse
when piecing together star stuff into nickel-iron orbs,
when every now and then he tidies up, or invents, a universe.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The Flower Girl

She wears a yellow sun dress and white apron
as she catalogues spring in Solomon’s speckled field.
A straw bonnet shades her cheek, surely not for modesty,
and she carries a basket of white evangelical daisies

praising heaven though their wings have been clipped for now.
Who would question this golden-haired mistress of the morn?
Unexpectedly, she turns and steps from the painting
onto the gallery floor—no one perceives the three-dimensional sin—

and threads the stem of a lazy lilting daffodil
through a buttonhole over the quickening of my heart.
She kisses me with lips as red and ripe as strawberries
before walking to the museum door and the street beyond.

On the canvas, a brunette invites me to a picnic on the grass.
I accept, for who am I to resist the call of lascivious love.
How long I have tasted the vintage of come hither
from the wineskin of this country-bred lass—

a day, a year, or a century’s slow waltz—
is not a matter of importance to patrons and guests.
No matter, for she has blue poppy eyes above peony cheeks
and, under her rough cotton dress, wild roses for breasts.

~William Hammett

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Monday, October 3, 2022

A Sliver of Moon

It is a comma on a page of night sky
separating all that was from all that will be,
a pause in the event horizon that is today,
the slender moment that is the here and now.
It shines on tall silver grass marking a path
through the peeling parchment of birch trees
and winding ever east through sacred clearings
so that a pilgrim may stop, worship, and bow.
He takes a step, and then another and another
into a cosmos that he writes with syntax
borrowed from a grammar of possibility.
He is author, scholar, and avatar from a new world,
lines from a work in progress lyrically unfurled.

~William Hammett

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