you are in the diode archives winter 2011




A knife in the mind, a desert

in the throat.  Kaleidoscope
of bottles in the trash. 

Slowly is the only way

I can move into the yard,
the morning gauzed in mist.

On the lawn, a paper plate

dotted with cake crumbs,
a flurry of ants.  I think

through the throbbing

and the night spools back
in scraps, the gaps in-between
large, deleted for good.

A little like death.  Or nowhere
near.  What dying will do

with memories I can only

speculate: crumbs
left on a plate or carried 

one and one into the grass.


Self-Portrait with Baby Possum

That’s me halfway up the ladder,
crouched beneath the roofline. 

That’s me gloved.  Slanted on the shingles,
that’s a paper plate, peanut butter

banged from a spoon.  Silence now
except for the wind chime pinging behind me,

the distant screams of schoolchildren
delivered by wind.  I’m listening

for the ratatat of claws
and here they come clicking over the roof. 

Here comes his pink nose, the rat tail
following his toddling.  My hand

in the air, my mind in the air, thinking
Now, wait, now.  Such a sound

the animal makes in my grasp,
a static-in-the-throat, both hiss

and breath.  Down the rungs I climb,
the youngest of three.  The fourth

seeped through my mother’s fingers
at the foot of the stairs, at the end

of her descending.  Such a sound that went
ripping through the house. 

The wind chime silently hangs. 
No bells in the blue sky.  That’s me

down from the ladder, holding the possum
up to my face, looking at his looking—

eyes puny, glassed over, rigid
in their sockets, darker than mine.



My neighbor kneels
on his lawn,

a chainsaw wailing
in his hands. 

The sky turns
a darker lilac, the saw

sings a higher howl
as the spinning chain
cuts a tree stump
leveled across

He brings the blocks

closer, halves
the stump again.

Moves the blocks,
halves the halves,

sawdust fountaining
down to the grass.

So a thing that grows
slowly in rings

is diminished in minutes. 
So a thing goes

as night charcoals
toward the skyline

and the moon turns
a brighter bone.


Little Wall Clock

It went kaput.  No matter
which battery I put
in the battery slot,
the hands would not
sweep, stopped
forever at three-thirty. 
Mid-afternoon or
insomnia hour,
it’s anyone’s guess
when it ticked its final
tick, told us in its own
mechanical way,
This second right
here is the last one
I’m tracking.  Cheap
little plastic thing
we always ignored
anyway, a narrow
band of dust
along the topmost
arc of its head—
dirt, dander, dead
skin and pollen,
the miniscule husks
of insects—all of it once
airborne, floating
around the bedroom
where our own hands
keep moving, twitch
while dreaming,
clutch in lust.


Cry Box (1987)
        after Ed Ruscha

It’s about yay big.      Heavy as God.      Built from six

panes of breath.      Depending on the light      it is clear

or opaque or      somewhere in between.      Silence is

a sibling.      Wind a cousin.      Without your singing

it flattens out.      All eight corners go.      Fill it if

you want to.      There is no right side up.      It’s all right.  


David Hernandez was recently awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  His third collection of poetry, Hoodwinked, won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in August 2011.