Monday 11 November 2019

5 Poems by Cindy Hochman & Bob Heman


in the third box or

maybe in the fourth

or with hands included

and sad, swollen feet

and a face that casts no shadow

nor silhouette of limbs

but only the voices of trees

alive with their greening

luring always luring

beckoning with their branches

and their sweet rustling voices

but they don’t tell their secrets

that's left for us to figure out

a chorus of foliage (outside the box)

(inspired by the Czech film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders)

sweet coquette, ripe with blood and berries

flowers stained with the puzzle of the future

she watches the actors and eagles from her balcony

and the missionaries who behave in unexpected ways

but something’s rotten in Czechoslovakia!

her suitor is her brother, at least until he isn't

pale Grandma is cousin (or maybe she’s Mother)

and like everyone else she wants the earrings

teeth of the vampire against virgin shoulders

blood always the explanation we are given

priests and thieves and plague-ridden fowl

either the masks they wear or hidden behind those masks

yes, Valerie, the grown-up world is all flesh and cruelty

there's nothing to do but to sleep long and deep in the lonely forest


the best board games give you unexpected choices

sometimes a thimble and sometimes a hat

and sometimes paths you have to choose between

even when you don’t have a clue

sometimes you have to roll a die to find out how far you can go

and then you have to worry about landing in jail

or you may have to roll again

and then you might find some sweets along the way

as you get ready to slide down a chute or climb a ladder

but does it hurt the donkey when its tail gets pinned?

only if no one says "I'm sorry"

or has to go under the dreaded knife

and sometimes you have to pick a card to decide your fate

the board game of life is an uncertain tally


How many poems can you write in a year?

Probably no more than one or two that contain the word "osprey."

And there are other birds that should never be mentioned.

And sometimes there are poems that use exactly the same words.

Redundancy is allowed when you’re trying to EMPHASIZE.

And of course the words on the page can always be re-arranged.

Or erased and then patched together again.

Allowing the meaning to hide deeper, almost out of sight.

But the subtext is clear, even through the faint lines.

Although sometimes we think we are seeing something else.

All of life open to interpretation.

And of course sometimes things have no meaning at all.

So it’s up to the poets to tell us what we saw.

Even if it's only a bear waking from a dream.


The kinds of money they accumulated included colors and lizards and adverbs.

Their wealth was based on the laws of nature.

It was extremely difficult to count.

The stock market rose and fell depending on the weather.

And even adding a comma could change its direction.

Everyone went broke due to shifts in punctuation.

Or grew rich with the changing colors of the autumn leaves.

The middle class was gone with the wind.

They had barely a lizard to call their own.

And no bulls in this bear market.

But the bears continued to be amused by the colors and the adverbs.

And all the other shiny objects in their path.

Objects that reflected their own puzzled faces.

Like mirrors and windows and wine glasses.


Collaborations by Cindy Hochman and Bob Heman have appeared in Otoliths, Unlikely Stories, Mannequin Haus, Have Your Chill, Clockwise Cat, and Live Mag! These poems are contained in the collaborative chapbook The Number 5 Is Always Suspect, which was published this year by Presa Press.

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