Wednesday, 5 November 2014

3 Poems by Jefferson Hansen

GIVEN

       t.
     r.
       i.
          p.
  out the spasti
                       c
rips in the social
   rev
        el
            ry
   & catch the rim
shot at the mo
                      m
                          ent
  of sheer collision
of positive election
         give
            n

Awry

It’s too hot to think
& the dogs appear out of nowhere
today.
It could be any day, but it’s
not, it’s this day, simply
too hot for most anything,
& something tells me the dogs
are neither friendly nor unfriendly.
They are scrawny, desperate
sniffing under cars & dumpsters,
bobbing around for food.
Only desperation could drive
a dog to search in this heat:
the asphalt seems to shimmer.
A distant train whistle makes me
wonder
if the friction of wheels on rail
could ignite. But
I don’t wonder too hard,
it’s too hot;
the border between wonder
& thought, though porous,
must be maintained. Thought
I think
has direction, momentum, impetus
while wonder meanders,
loses itself in its very play,
luxuriates in where it is now.
Dogs think, but they might
not wonder.
It could be our defining characteristic,
a specifically human type of play:
a luxuriously wandering mind.
Or I might
be trying too hard. The distinction
between humans & animals may
not be so firm: a dog I know
likes to lie with its head
on its forelegs, napping or relaxing,
just as we do, when we grow
tired and lean
over a table or desk, resting
on our forearms,
maybe going completely blank. 
Even the plans of nature can go awry.


City Center

My knowledge of birdcalls is hardly developed. In the park
in city center this morning I heard first one type of bird,
and then another. I don’t think they were communicating.
I could only discern the vast difference in timbre and harmony.

The timbre and harmony of the two calls signified a gulf.
I didn’t know, in any important way, one call from another.
I was in a park in City Center, a neighborhood where action occurs.
I think that they were neither communicating nor noticing the other.

At least, not in my world. In my world there was a gap.
The birds each sang for an absent other of the same species.
They did not sing for each other, I insist. They sang for an absence.
I insist. Yes I do. It was morning. I first heard a bird. Then another.

The second was of a different species, and I relaxed into the call,
sinking into my red lawn chair, as a runner hopped and waddled
by on a sidewalk in the distance and a little car horn barely beeped:
The clock at City Center chimed eleven times, bidding away the morning.

I was at City Center this morning. I listened to two birds, each
singing differently, each singing to another’s absence. Perhaps
the absences heard, perhaps they didn’t. I did not care. I could
care now, but I don’t. Birds don’t know what they are doing.

Birds have small brains and can cry out into nothing. When we humans
do this, we usually cramp up at some point in some way. This is
fine. It marks us as us. Don’t you like being human?


Bionote

Jefferson Hansen is the author, most recently, of the short story collection Cruelty (BlazeVox). His selected poems appear in Jazz Forms (Blue Lion). He lives in Minneapolis. 

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