Thursday, August 24, 2023

All Saints' Day

In the Bowery, sweet Belinda tries to kick the harder stuff.
No one sees her sleeping beneath the paper-thin Dow Jones
scrolling behind the dumpster in the alley known as Hallows Eve.

The New York Central runs down her forearm three times a day,
but the dark gray hoodie conceals the more prominent whistlestops.
Window boxes bloom in the brown tenements of Harlem,

marigolds taking first place in color and the Darwinian will to survive.
There is stickball in the shadows as Moses goes on the nod.
An empty grocery cart is driven by a ghost.

Lovers stroll in Battery Park and kiss from sea to shining sea,
and the linden tree still sways from Jenny’s operatic wind and wave.
In 1850, everyone applauded the Swedish Nightingale’s full-throated ease.

There are good days and bad, broken concrete above promising earth.
Sometimes Eve strolls through the Apple but doesn’t drop the sin.
A Pratt and Whitney cuts the twins off at the knees,

but Belinda wakes and decides to lose the lighter and the spoon.
A week later, while the moon washes the streets, she’s perfectly clean.
Sheep and goats, wheat and chaff—they can change late or soon,

so it’s wise to keep the scorecard close to the vest.
A wise man told me that everyone’s a saint if you read the final page.
All these years later, I think I know what he means.

~William Hammett

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Wednesday, August 16, 2023


In my youth, I didn’t see the coin, only heads or tails,
and I could not see the forest for the trees.
I walked the narrow path of enigma and cliché

with no room for the super-colliding electron’s decay
or a subatomic particle’s brief foray into space and time.
I had stumbling meter, but not a couplet’s rhyme.

Now I see neither the forest nor the trees,
only the ever-present likelihood of green.
The either-or is such a silly prom night theme.

It is the fool who tries to separate the river from the sea,
to divide lovers in the act of love into he or she
or to split particle and wave, erasing the ecstasy of light.

But, I hear you ask, what happens to the ocean
when the tide washes ashore and sinks into the sand?
I have been where you are standing, but now

I do not see such a beginning or an end,
for the shoreline is seamless in a cosmos on the mend.
I divine the wholeness of Earth and star and galaxy.

I feel, but do not see, that time, like love,
forever folds upon itself, forever bends.
It is said that the most memorable of kisses never ends.

~William Hammett

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Wednesday, August 9, 2023


Suppose that a dry leaf
falls into a clear brook that runs to the sea
and circles the world a full seven times
before being read by a thankful maiden,
a letter that simply says “Yes, yes, oh yes!”

It changes the world
as all leaves and lovers change the world,
as all words and poems
fold grass into stars and bend time
upon itself so that now-and-then
kiss with wine dripping from their lips.

Entanglement, quanta parsed into pairs,
summons the royal wedding to court.
Lute and harp bless the world
now married to the virgin ready to unfold
and give birth to compassionate winds
that awaken a sleeping mother’s son.

Love and jubilee pirouette
on the head of an eternal pin
while pouring forth the virtue
of dolphins keeping the mariner safe at sea.
The mystical sum lies to the right
of the equals sign, the omega fulfilled.

It is the beating heart of a robin,
the song of the humpback whale.
It is my love poured into a cup
so that I may drink with each breath.
It is the light of lovingkindness
falling across the hardwood floor.

~William Hammett

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