Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eric Hoffman, Five Poems

Eric Hoffman


Sick at first. The sea was rough.
Assembled Lycidas from memory
Like Isis Osiris’ broken body.
Once the storm eased, spent
Long hours on deck, learning
To use the sextant, lamenting
My poor knowledge of the sea,
Of geometry and astronomy,
Drawing conclusions from everything,
The voyage at sea metaphor for life,
Rich with sentiment and symbol.

Freedom. Inside, terrible freedom.
Outside, thousands of laws,
Of physics and of men.
But inside, that temptation
Overruns us, rendering the soul
A plaything for vice,
Tarnishing the white walls
Of our reputation.

My ministry in tatters, and
My Ellen now so sadly altered.
And where I encounter a chilling fear
She expected serenity
Even when her every breath
Offered her distress. And now
The invisible multitude of all
Breathing things becomes
A silent choir.

My eye is American.
Like a chemist assembling substances
I bring myself to sea
In search of affinities –

The bubble –
By its birthright – expands
And my American eye
Is like a child’s again

I write empty sentences
In my journal. In death,
Words become poor company,
Expecting of them more
Than they have to offer.
We search this desolate home
Looking for healing and peace
As if they are mis-placed objects.

‘Teach me I am forgotten by the dead
And the dead is by herself forgot.’

Retreat into reading:
Plotinus. The Bible.
Did Matthew, Mark, Luke and John exist?
When all else fell to ruin
Their lonely words
Cried out faith
In the wilderness

Crying out.

Why must I travel across the sea?
Under the lee of the spencer sheet
I found a solitary thoughtful hour –

The vast envelope of sky
Lit by the same light that illuminates
Distant shores, painted canvases,

Carved marbles, renowned towns,
These places and names
From childhood


Eric Hoffman is the author of six collections of poems, of which The American Eye (Dos Madres Press, 2011) and Everything Is Actual (Lone Willow Press, 2011) are the most recent.  His poetry and prose have appeared in Talisman, Rain Taxi, Smartish Pace, Cultural Society, Poetry Flash and Jacket.  In 2009 he edited a George Oppen festschrift, All This Strangeness, for Big Bridge.
RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture,, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume 5 (2011): Disappearance

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