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DEAR, SINCERELY

“A curious, kaleidoscopic work of poetic intelligence.”
—Booklist

“Do not let the fact that David Hernandez is one of the funniest poets at work today mislead you into thinking ‘comic’ poets can’t also be learned, wise, socially aware, and capable of deep pathos. Hernandez possesses all these qualities—in abundance. His new book is nothing short of dazzling.” —David Wojahn

“Hernandez is a poet writing to us from poetry’s epicenter—where music invents itself, and the psyche and the sensory world are one. These poems speak with such intimate authenticity that the reader and the words are never separated by more than a breath—and yet they’re overheard, perhaps not really meant for readers at all, which lends them their uncanniness. These are major, important poems.” —Laura Kasischke

 

Anyone Who Is Still Trying

Any person, any human, any someone who breaks
          up the fight, who spackles holes or FedExes
ice shelves to the Arctic to keep the polar bears
          afloat, who talks the wind-rippled woman
down from the bridge. Any individual, any citizen
          who skims muck from the coughing ocean,
who pickets across the street from antigay picketers
          with a sign that reads, GOD HATES MAGGOTS,
or, GOD HATES RESTAURANTS WITH ZAGAT RATINGS
          LESS THAN 27. Any civilian who kisses
a forehead heated by fever or despair, who reads
          the X ray, pins the severed bone. Any biped
who volunteers at soup kitchens, who chokes
          a Washington lobbyist with his own silk necktie—
I take that back, who gives him mouth-to-mouth
          until his startled heart resumes its kabooms.
Sorry, I get cynical sometimes, there is so much
          broken in the system, the districts, the crooked
thinking, I’m working on whittling away at this
          pessimism, harvesting light where I can find it.
Any countryman or countrywoman who is still
          trying, who still pushes against entropy,
who stanches or donates blood, who douses fires
          real or metaphorical, who rakes the earth
where tires once zeroed the ground, plants something
          green, say spinach or kale, say a modest forest
for restless breezes to play with. Any anyone
          from anywhere who considers and repairs,
who builds a prosthetic beak for an eagle—
          I saw the video, the majestic bird disfigured
by a bullet, the visionary with a 3-D printer,
          with polymer and fidelity, with hours
and hours and hours, I keep thinking about it,
          thinking we need more of that commitment,
those thoughtful gestures, the flight afterward.

 

Dear Proofreader

You’re right. I meant “midst,” not “mist.”
I don’t know what I was stinking,
I mean thinking, soap speaks intimately
to my skin every day. Most days.
Depending if darkness has risen
to my skull like smoke up a chimney floe.
Flue. Then no stepping nude
into the shower, no mist turning
the bathroom mirror into frosted glass
where my face would float
coldly in the oval. Picture a caveman
encased in ice. Good. I like how
your mind works, how your eyes
inside your mind works, and your actual eyes
reading this, their icy precision, nothing
slips by them. Even now I can feel you
hovering silently above these lines,
hawkish, Godlike, each period
a lone figure kneeling in the snow.
That’s too solemn. I would like to send
search parties and rescue choppers
to every period ever printed.
I would like to apologize to my wife
for not showering on Monday and Tuesday.
I was stinking. I was simultaneously
numb and needled with anxiety,
in the midst of a depressive episode.
Although “mist” would work too,
metaphorically speaking, in the mist of,
in the fog of, this gray haze that followed me
relentlessly from room to room
until every red bell inside my head
was wrong. Rung.

 

 

 

 

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