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Maria Ranier Rilke, 1875-1926

There is a song the body sings to itself
      about time’s arrow, that has pierced
Its sentimental shining heart: about the eternal
      flow of fire over the medulla oblongata,
And the oceanic backwash of lymph
      in the cells’ interstices. Call that song an angel.
Call it space. The body sings, and does not know
      or care about the corrosive dark matter
Sealed in burial urns. The body sings, and when it stops
      for breath, nothing sings back its harmony.


T. R. Hummer, 1950 (alt. birth date 2011)

I was born at the age of 60, and I come into this new world
      with a bouquet of scars and old questions
From too long spent in the womb. You might as well be dead
      in there, where something thunders like a cartoon heart
On the other side of the wall—it’s a clichéd quote
      from Poe, a motel room where nobody stays
More than an hour. Buried alive, I was more dead than you
      can imagine, and I rattled my chains in rhythm
To bad music on a radio. The other world should be otherwise,
      other and wise and after. Next time, timelessness.


Luis Omar Salinas, 1937-2008

Over the Valle del Sol at midnight, one harrier hawk
      carries the flame of its singular heart, being
A hawk, being winged and alive, moonlight expanding
      its shadow dimly but vastly over a forest of saguaros
That surrounds the singular flame of a kangaroo mouse.
      A hawk takes no delight in the certainty of outcomes.
A hawk knows its hunger and carries it fiercely through the sky.
      But for the man who hears the hawk there is the contemplation
Of the image of endless hallways, each receding into darkness,
      each with a series of doors: behind each door an endless hallway.  


T. R. Hummer is author of 10 books of poetry. His eleventh, Skandalon, is forthcoming from LSU Press.