H.K. Hummel

H.K. Hummel's poetry has recently been published in Calyx, Quay, and Babel Fruit. She is the recipient of Western Australia's 2009 Katherine Susannah Prichard Emerging Writer in Residence award. She is co-editor of Blood Orange Review ( www.bloodorangereview.com )  and lives in Berkeley, California

This is how we can begin:

learning the proper force of hands on cupboard doors,
the side-long stretching sweep as bay laurels reach
across downward sliding creeks;

remembering to step quietly as if our beloved, exhausted, is ever-just asleep,
witnessing the half-hidden needful looks of others
as if watching for shrouded trout in cutback banks.

This is how we can begin to take up the pieces we so want to keep,
even the already trampled, ruined, lost-
the water thickening with sludge and muck; the love, deeply bruised--

and wanting, then working, with everything
to soothe it all back into place, to allay the herky-jerky fears
and let it be, uncompromised, rested, new.

This Old Dog Devotion

This old dog devotion
keeps waiting at the chamber door
of the heart. At the softest of sounds
her ears go up, alert; she noses the air,
thumps a hefty tail, once, twice
with cautious hopefulness.
Dry leaves scuttle in the shifting breeze,
then night's great gap of nothing.
The streetlight flickers off
when dawn drifts like fog down the street.
A hard, sure knock against the door:
the newspaper boy flings
another heavy missive from the world.


This wild tidal moon has a tad crazed late night jogger pulling a reluctant dog full tilt. Our own full moon fever brought the frisson of a date night fight. And yet, in the midst of our quarreling, you become a gentle cosmic taxi driver: caught amidst the false moons of Main Street lamplight, scuttling from the splashes of spilled gasoline, a preying mantis (all bright green angles of legs, wings and antennae) does it's best-a simple insect prayer perhaps, or certainly, a plain animal wish for safety, calm, and the hushed softness of true moonlight. How gently you lift the fragile bit of life, an improbably pointy chartreuse twig. It clings to your shirt, a creature more like an animated doll umbrella, or a caricature of some alien visitor than anything else familiar. As we drive home, you take it to the place you think it might yearn for more than any other. Imagine, how miraculous to suddenly have the jagged city lights and cement disappear and find yourself, set down carefully amongst a lush reedy riverside flooded with the scent of peonies, damp loam, and little else? How can I not give everything lovely and wild (all fragile and alien, all awkward and prayerful) held inside this oceanic body, this lunar-tugged heart to a man who chooses to be the benevolent well-wisher of lost insects?


Incendiary as late summer hillsides
we are fire and alcohol.
One terrible outburst, one forceful breath
and our house would drift as ash.

One deliberate arsonist's gesture,
and we could draw a thin whip of
flame to encircle this town--
a fuse to dynamite demolition.

Contained within the iron limits
of a skillet or chafing dish,
we light our own aurora borealis,
burn a striated curtain of stellar blue

and turn sugar to caramel.


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