Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Lost Moon

It was the Year of the Dragon,
and the moon was in Gemini
when I rowed towards the silver eye

resting on the rim of dark ocean,
water dripping from the oars
in the slow cadence of a dirge.

I was out of my depth in so many ways,
fall coming on hard and cold,
youth already spent on the known and old,

on fighting Grendel’s Mother
and her bitch-heavy pathological urge.
But then there was Mozart,

A Little Night Music, spin and jitterbug
to infuse this fallen man
with a few more stuttering steps,

a few more bittersweet miles.
Was it a kiss or the mind of God
or something else entirely

that I tried to reach on that long-ago night,
an ampersand that connected cradle to grave,
the modulation of a Tibetan Buddha’s wave?

It’s all the same, you know—
the kiss, the chant, the god, the now,
and yet I loved her song and flow.

I found a shiny nickel
minted in the Year of the Dragon
on a corner paving stone.

I polish it once a year with love
before holding it at arm’s length
against the glory of the stars.

And that is enough catharsis to bury the loss.
The moon is always in my pocket,
no longer a mariner’s albatross.

~William Hammett

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Twisted Symmetry

Tie the gentle curve into a Gordian Knot
or fold the desert highway into pretzel logic.
Waves will still break on the shore in fringe and foam.

Let M.C. Escher walk up the down staircase,
take the Bureau of Weights and Measures off speed dial.
Rain will still slant silver in the spring.

Siphon the universe into a black hole
and hammer a triangle into Picasso.
The sun will still paint the meadow gold.

Unzip the double helix of DNA into drooping flowers,
make love to the twenty-something,
and dine out with the old crone.

The actress will still deliver her soliloquy
on the proscenium either way.
Explode the order of fractals into a jigsaw puzzle

or build a shrine to Our Lady of the Hobos.
Particle and wave will still keep dancing
no matter how you diagram the sentence.

Expose the man behind the curtain or not:
only in the undoing will the doing find potential.
Order becomes decay, decay is order’s art

in a cosmos that is cooling but always running hot.
Carry the wisdom of the ages, but be forever young at heart.
You will always be free to fold everything

back into a reality you cannot understand
as long as thought travels faster than the speed of light.
Tell me I’m wrong, and then tell me I’m right.

~William Hammett

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Piano Bar

It sits on the corner of Steinway and Baldwin Streets,
nicely cooled against Dog Day heat.
At 2 a.m., the bartender, in stiff white shirt and black bow tie,

polishes glasses and eyes them like an astronomer
looking through telescopes fixed on three silent patrons
at corner tables light years from one another,

their candles winking like inebriated stars.
The femme fatale at the ivories sounds like Nora,
her voice floating on late-night silk

and sounding just as comely sweet.
I sit in a corner and scratch poems on a napkin
while observing this dim universe as the hours wear on.

The astronomer delivers a tumbler of scotch, neat.
Piano notes become cosmic background radiation,
a rendition in a minor key from the music of the spheres.

It is a universe that I can inhabit and wear like skin,
one in which I can create my verse on the downlow
for the next fourteen billion years or so.

~William Hammett

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