Wednesday, April 26, 2023

New Orleans, April 2023

My childhood home is planted in a garden within a garden.
The streetcar two blocks away still rumbles in and out of Doppler shift.
The fertile crescent of St. Charles Avenue, Mesopotamia reborn,

curves gently between the rhythm of a river and a lapping lake.
Everything blossoms, azaleas and crepe myrtles and King Solomon’s fields.
The colors flash friendly beneath the impossibly-blue sky

as I ride by Sacre Coeur, where koi and nuns still swim in veiled prayer.
Cafes and gentrified shotguns are camouflaged by curling green tendrils
that bind Magazine to Prytania faster than power lines and matchstick poles.

I see my ghost on every corner, from childhood to the man,
Wordsworth writing verse while perched in the elbow of a hundred-year oak.
The riverbend slingshots me onto Carrolton Avenue, a straight shot

to Bayou St. John, still waters where I am baptized with memories
of early-morning commutes to open stacks and seminars.
The levees and pines watch Pontchartrain kiss the stone steps of the seawall,

and Mardi Gras Fountain holds the center of gravity for wind and sun and grass.
I wear my ghost like a windbreaker as I watch sails pitch and yaw
on the rolling tide of afternoon, late in the day, late in life.

The city is as I remember it save for cosmetic surgery and Tulane coeds,
all of whom carry small block monoliths so they may speak with Hal.
I backtrack. The cemetery, St. Louis Number Three, is whitewashed

so that skulls and bones no longer frighten me. I sit on a park bench
and hear the freighter’s horn that will carry us all away,
but not yet. I open a book of poems, the lines holding me in place for now.

~William Hammett

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Friday, April 14, 2023


Winter’s bony branch is scratching at the moon again,
and another etches with purpose ancient glyphs

in frost heavy on the second-story windowpane,
reminders of inevitable ruin and decay,

of ice cream’s fabled emperor that always carries the day.
I prefer springtime trees laden with lust and semen-sap

and their unfurling palette of glorious green.
These beginnings and endings, so deliberate and lean,

are a mystery to the middle-aged hand that opens the door
or executes scallions after mopping the floor,

to the brain enamored of rocking routine.
By necessity, our love affair with the spectrum of now
is an interlude at best, a breaking wave on the shore.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023


It is metaphysical mojo, an invisible stock-in-trade,
part and parcel of everything’s that’s ostensibly made.
It is everywhere and nowhere, enigmatic embryo

dividing into a million puzzles within the brain.
April unwinds steady metrical feet of lilting showers,
but as far as owning the poem or becoming its author,

that is not something that is yours or mine or ours.
Love is touched and untouched, palpable and yet glowing,
photons’ wave-particle ensemble on the highest stage and lowest.

For these matters I confess a decided affinity,
for I love the mystery that only ends in sequel
that may or may not be written in Hadron script

by Heisenberg’s traveling subatomic players.
I love the space-time continuum that surely had a prequel--
singularity, duality, and the complex syntax of trinity.

I live inside my skin and bones, content to hammer a threepenny nail
into a wooden post to fix my place in the here and now,
to assure that I, a walk-on player at best, retain my destiny.

~William Hammett

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