Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Outcast

The young man is skinny and crooked,
his teeth angled like a broken fence
and as yellow as piano keys unconnected to wire.
One ear sticks out, the other folded flat
against his head like the broken wing of a plane,
his buck teeth curving his mouth into a perpetual smile.
Released from the carnival, he walks through a field
in late afternoon until he stumbles because of a lazy eye,
his gait drifting ever left, ever left.
On the fresh spring earth, he inhales the new grass,
marvels at its bright green color, its odor of birth
and the promise of a day when salvation will sing.

The world turns by a few degrees of arc
so that starlight from diamonds strikes his retina,
illuminating his brain and teaching his body,
crumpled like yesterday’s newspaper,
the ways of God, the humility born of pain.
He looks at the precious gifts of sky and earth
that so few others are ever able to attain.
Slowly he kneels, then stands on the untroubled sod.
He knows that the next stutter, inevitable as the sun and the rain,
will bring him even closer to the mind of God.

~William Hammett

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Friday, November 17, 2023


Down along the avenue of jazz, of jam and jive
cooking in Paris, the Bohemian Montmartre,
the manage-a-trois finds its rhythm by fits and starts,

a piano, stand-up bass, and drums taking turns in the sack,
the strings, wires, and skins lurching forward, hanging back.
The melody, wearing a disguise for tempo’s espionage,

swings Kepler’s planetary orbs into elliptical downbeats,
syncopated sighs, the wail of a comet’s tail
cutting a nebula of cigarette smoke

above a sea of berets, turtlenecks, and beards.
It is all harmony and vibration, string theory,
dimension folded into dreaming dimension,

half notes riding a collapsing stave of jazz stutter,
angels ascending and descending Jacob’s ladder.
Such glorious confusion. Jove dances the jitterbug.

It is all an electron in a grander scheme,
and below it falls the forever of collaborating seams.
So many universes, and I have yet to take the Grand Tour.

The high-hat and snare kiss the bass line and keys
while Sartre and Camus are taken to the woodshed.
One day I shall dance the harmonics,

strip away what seems, shall bend time and space
in a loft where the trio flickers like a neon sign
and get to the bottom, or perhaps the top, of the neverending shine.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Multiplication of Verbs and Fishes

The moon writes poetry across twilight.
It has no meter or rhyme, only the scansion of its rising.

The eagle, quills riding an updraft, clears the mountain
while the fish reads the bottom of the sea,

pages marked by the epic bones of Ulysses.
Taoists work this carnival of wandering words,

the pregnant void, the cloud of unknowing, the Akashic record.
Five loaves and two fish multiply into a grand story

from a blank page, an empty basket, a rolled-up scroll.
The readers are amazed and well-fed and walk away with hope.

I do not know where syllables come from
or the sentient syntax of the soul.

We are vehicles for the long novel that never was but always is.
I tend my garden, a consonant seeking to be part of the whole.

~William Hammett

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