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July 22, 2022 Poetry

Two Poems

Kelly Hoffer

Two Poems photo

ars poetica (clouded)

this morning I came to the document

in search of clarity, pining for that egress

of a cloud moving away from the

back of my neck where my extra eyes lie

looking over a glacial pool—

here, I say, it is so simple to start over.

I open another window, discard the last,

send it floating, out on the water. the pool is milky,

filled with stone ground to powder, clouded.

but I’ve talked, too often,

about clouds, this not my first, nor my last.

I remember the parable

of the painter whose studio went up

in flames. she lost her life’s work and

was relieved. when she painted

again, she painted the paintings her

immolated paintings had only dreamt of. a canvas

of a cloud of smoke lifting

off a pool. a canvas of a flame

extinguishing. a figure in gray. my

poems linger even without

document.  I’ve read them

to myself, in my little silence, in my quaint

ritual way that to

lose them would be to, would be predicated on,

losing my mind, to watch it float

away wrapped in a latex balloon. instead, the air is clotted

with my thoughts, persisting there

beyond my will. without poems I am not

sure I would know

the cloud

when I saw it.  but I can admit

sometimes I want my brain

to burn up, hoping as I do, to

see the cloud, and write it out,

once again for the first time 

without metaphor 


I draw a character

on a blue square and send it off
to myself          I say, see you around, Future!

more than I’d imagined            I come here to talk
to the inside of my skull       the backs of my eyelids say
hello how are you and would you like to see
some fireworks?

I slice into an orange and bisect some seeds
I talk into a cave and hear nothing.
my ear is a stony drum
mossing over.

so again, the epistle is returned
to its unknowing          language
going out into the world to be on its own   the slender
document is always on the knife’s edge
of becoming a dead letter.

losing a baby can mean nothing but it can also
mean everything. the stars are already spent,
their light is still
on its way.

I say to my eyelids,       I would like to see
the Virgin Mary levitating      on a sea of fire.

I think of abortions, tender and not. I think
of my ordinary organs. I do not think
of my miscarried sibling,
sexless, eyeless, a too-young clustering of blood.

I turn soil
over and find milky grubs.

I would like her to come as herself and admit
confidentially, a tender gesture,  that she is not            a virgin
the miracles I wish for most—orange flames   licking her
heart. she stands on a waning moon. I sense
her toenails, the swollen flesh
on the backs of her knees hidden behind a long
blue robe.

I put an orange slice in my mouth and pretend
its rind is my teeth. my lips barely fit around
the waxy skin. I smile and smile

my eyelids wear the sky like a long blue robe
filled with stars invisible
in the day’s good light.


image: Kelly Hoffer