Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
May 2017 · 262
Dinner In Galway
Dave Hardin May 2017
We first laid eyes on you over drinks
and dinner in the Latin Quarter,
a short stroll from the Spanish Arch,  
its historical significance gone
in a heartbeat along with all
expectation of ambush
by austere beauty
on those wind swept stepping stones
Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer.

The River Corrib gleams
like vintage vinyl beneath
Wolfe Tone Bridge,  
grainy and black as your liquid
image glowing serene on screen,
countless heartbeats of moonlight
mingling quayside with the sea
in a salty embrace that stings
my eyes and seizes me
by the throat.

The windows of St. Martin’s
frame the timeless river.
Soft chamois of morning lifts
the stubborn tarnish of dawn
from its braided embellished tales.  
We tuck into our full Irish and drink
watery coffee while you float outside
time to the rhythm of the tides
in your small brackish sea.
May 2017 · 288
Dinner In Galway
Dave Hardin May 2017
We first laid eyes on you over drinks
and a late dinner in the Latin Quarter,
a short stroll from the Spanish Arch,  
its historical significance gone
in a heartbeat along with expectation
of ambush by austere beauty
on those wind swept stepping stones
Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer.

The River Corrib rushes
beneath Wolfe Tone Bridge,
grainy and black as your liquid
image on the screen,
countless heartbeats of moonlight
mingling quayside with the sea
in a salty embrace that stings
my eyes and seizes my throat.

The windows of St. Martin’s
frame the timeless river.
Chamois cloth of morning
lifts the stubborn tarnish of dawn
from its braided embellishments.  
We tuck into our full Irish and drink
the watery coffee while you float
outside of time in your brackish sea.
May 2017 · 583
Mother To Words
Dave Hardin May 2017
It’s the letting go,
book of your hands
forever falling open,
your words on the page  
taking flight a few downy
letters at a time, sentences
learning to trust their wings,
short forays of paragraphs
you strain to read against
porcelain blue sky,  
whole chapters lifting
off as one to wheel
by their own lights,
leaving you
to slip between
these clean white pages
with a good book,
trying not to read
too much into the author’s
soaring dedication.
May 2017 · 325
Racquetball
Dave Hardin May 2017
Years after giving up the game
for good I still dream of turning
up late to a match juggling
a chipped red racquet,

high-impact lenses,
salt tanned right hand
glove and two
blue ***** fresh in the can,

my dream court receding
down darkened halls,
a warren of identical doors,
portholes slashing avocado

carpet with watery cross ties,
florescent flickers that merge and pool,
flushing me into flat light within
a stark white cube to toe the red

service line once again only to find
my forehand serve impeded
by stacked furniture and packing
crates arranged into a crooked lane

plat of a miniature medieval
Bruges.  Racquetball,
a game of angles gone
sadly out of fashion,

the MacGuffin in my dreams  
and my playing days when you
were my true opponent.  Never one
for racquet sports, you ran me

stroking passing shots, methodical
while I hurled myself heedless
headlong into walls, losing on points,
nursing trophies of bruises.
May 2017 · 468
Reading In Bed
Dave Hardin May 2017
As it happens I did not buy this book
of collected poems in St. John, New Brunswick or
Charlottetown, P.E.I.  I didn’t pick it up
in Yorkville on a long weekend in Toronto,
nor was I delighted to spot it in a window display
on a stop I didn’t make for coffee in Kamloops, B.C.  
No doubt Halifax has its share of bookstores,
none of which I’ve visited on the road
to North Sydney to catch the ferry to Newfoundland,
where one imagines happening upon a salt cured,
weather beaten mom and pop clinging to life
quayside in St. Johns.  
The border with sleep lies just up ahead
where soon I’ll be borne across
on thoughts of the boats of these poems
lifted on the rising tide of the U.S. dollar,  
Billy Collins buttoned up for the night
inside a tent pitched upon the calm seas
of my chest.
May 2017 · 437
Reading In Bed
Dave Hardin May 2017
As it happens I did not buy this book
of collected poems in St. John, New Brunswick or
Charlottetown, P.E.I.  I didn’t pick it up in Yorkville
on a weekend spree in Toronto, nor was I delighted
to spot it in a window display when I stopped
for lunch in Kamloops, B.C.  
No doubt Halifax has its share of bookstores,
none of which I’ve visited on the road to North Sydney
to catch the ferry to Newfoundland,
where one could imagine happening upon
a salt cured, weather beaten mom and pop
clinging to life quayside in St. Johns.  
The border with sleep lies just up ahead
where soon I’ll be borne across
on thoughts of the boats of these poems
rising on the tide of the U.S. dollar,  
The Rain In Portugal a tent
rising and falling on my chest.
May 2017 · 504
Racquetball
Dave Hardin May 2017
Years after giving up the game
for good I still dream of turning
up late to a match juggling
a chipped red racquet,

high-impact lenses,
salt tanned right hand
glove and two
blue ***** fresh in the can,

my dream court receding
down darkened halls,
a warren of identical doors,
portholes slashing avocado

carpet with watery cross ties,
florescent flickers that merge and pool,
flushing me into flat light within
a stark white cube to toe the red

service line once again only to find
my forehand serve impeded
by stacked furniture and packing
crates arranged into the crooked lane

plat of medieval Bruges.  
Racquetball,
a game of angles
gone sadly out of fashion,

the MacGuffin in my dreams,
as it was in my playing days
when you were my true opponent,
King of Center Court running me,

stroking passing shots, methodical
while I hurled myself heedless
headlong into walls, losing on points,
nursing trophies of bruises.
May 2017 · 273
Thatching
Dave Hardin May 2017
Lower, lower, a little more to the right, right,
so I work my way down ahead of the rain,
laboring under the gaze of a robin overseer
relaying your wanton desire in bossy birdsong.
She keeps an eye out for worms while I mind
the angle of the rake, ride grassy undulations,
tines biting into your arching back.
Apr 2017 · 241
Racquetball
Dave Hardin Apr 2017
Years after giving up the game
for good I still dream of turning
up late to a match juggling
a chipped red racquet,

high-impact lenses,
salt tanned right hand
glove and two
blue ***** fresh in the can,

my dream court receding
down darkened halls,
a warren of identical doors,
portholes slashing avocado

carpet with watery cross ties,
florescent flickers that merge and pool,
flushing me into flat light within
a stark white cube to toe the red

service line once again
only to find my forehand
serve impeded by jumbled
tables, five drawer files, armoires, roll top desks and bureaus

arranged into the crooked lane plat of medieval Bruges.  
Racquetball,
a game of angles
gone sadly out of fashion,

the MacGuffin in my dreams,
as it was in my playing days
when you were my true opponent,
King of Center Court running me,

stroking passing shots, methodical
while I hurled myself heedless
headlong into walls, losing on points,
nursing trophies of bruises.
Apr 2017 · 311
Racquetball
Dave Hardin Apr 2017
Years after giving up the game
for good I dream of turning
up late to a match juggling
my chipped red racquet,

high-impact lenses,
salt tanned right hand
glove and two
blue ***** fresh in the can,

my dream court receding
down darkened halls,
a warren of identical doors, square
portholes slashing avocado

carpet with watery cross ties,
florescent flickers that merge and pool,
flushing me into flat light within
a white cube to toe the red

service line once again only to find
my forehand serve impeded
by a jumble of tables,
five drawer files and armoires,

packing crates, roll top desks and bureaus
arranged into the crooked lane plat of medieval Bruges.  
Racquetball,
a game of angles

gone sadly out of fashion,
is the MacGuffin in my dream
as it was in my playing days
when you were always the real opponent,

King of Center Court
running me, stroking passing shots
while I dove heedless, headlong into walls,
losing on points, nursing my trophy of bruises.
Apr 2017 · 223
revise, revise
Dave Hardin Apr 2017
On Turning Sixty-One**

Fitzgerald’s last line;
longing, lovingly

rendered in fourteen
words, ode

to inevitability
in any tongue.

“So we beat on”,
aching,

“boats against the current”,
our urgent

she bu de!,
she bu de!/

I can’t bear
to let go!,

“borne back”
on music

in the Latin,
de mihi tempus/

give me more
time.  

Songs echo
“ceaselessly into the past.”
Apr 2017 · 307
**On Turning Sixty-One**
Dave Hardin Apr 2017
On Turning Sixty-One

Fitzgerald’s last line,
longing rendered in

fourteen words, ode to
inevitability uttered

in any tongue. “So we beat
on” aching,

“boats against the current”
our urgent

she bu de!, she bu de!/
I can’t bear

to let go!, “borne back”
by music

in the Latin,
de mihi tempus/

give me more
time, echoing

“ceaselessly
into the past.”
Mar 2017 · 267
**Hand Built House**
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Hand Built House

The foundation, we dug it by moonlight
spooning when shovels were scarce,
working from plans sketched in sand
at low tide, layout recalled from a dream
someone had in which the other tended bar,
a dive with a fresco so inviting our dreamer
stepped into it and beckoned the barkeep
to distraction, to abandon, to drift off humming
a work song, one we still like to sing
from scaffold, balanced on beams, writing
our grandchildren’s names in wet cement.
Rooms of small betrayals best forgotten,
foyers of words we can’t take back bricked
up and hung with samplers of forgiveness,
load bearing walls of faith that defy formulae,
infinite hallways of hope, the door to nowhere
that never fails to amuse when we need to laugh
to keep from crying.  There’s a window stuck,
won’t you take a look?  I’ll see to that shingle
before it rains.  Work, it’s never done, walls
that won’t paint themselves, our labor of love.
Mar 2017 · 232
anniversary poem
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Hand Built House
(anniversary poem)

The foundation we dug by moonlight  
spooning when shovels were scarce,
working from plans drawn up in sand
at low tide, layout recalled from a dream
one of us had in which the other tended bar,
a place with a fresco so inviting the dreamer
stepped in and beckoned the barkeep
to distraction, to abandon, to drift off
humming a work song, one we still sing
from scaffold, balanced on beams, writing
our grandchildren’s names in wet cement,
work that never ends, a labor of love.
Mar 2017 · 146
revised
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Setting Spring Alight**

Dog and man, leashed by habit,
retrace all the old routes against
a backdrop of calendar pages
ripped clean, carried off by thieving
wind graduated from soft breezes  
once played across fresh baked faces,
recalled when thoughts wander off lead.  
They pause here and there to rub
trace memory from galley proofs of grass,
take in sooty crews of robins, incendiaries
touching down, setting town alight.
One warms to waning desire
to give chase, the other burns
through days as if spring still hung
lightly on his shoulders.
Mar 2017 · 162
Spring Set Alight
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Spring Set Alight

Dog and man, leashed by habit
Trace and retrace against a backdrop of
Calendar pages ripped free, carried
Away in wind building to crescendo
Soft breeze of youth still playing
Across fresh baked faces when thoughts
Wander off lead, pausing here and there
Rubbing trace memory from reborn grass
Taking in a crew of robins, burning embers
Touching down, setting town alight
One warming to waning desire to give
Chase, the other burning through days
As if spring hung lightly on his shoulders.
Mar 2017 · 156
new version
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Guilt

Northbound on the left hand shoulder
Even the most armored pads no match
For the glittering carpet of shattered glass
Pile shot through with steel shard, sharp
Bite of burrowing wire, incongruous
As the blue cow I placed above a yellow
Felt board moon as a child, unsummoned
Memory that galls my brand new passenger
Dour as his spear is sharp, running me through
While I watch the reflection of the dog
Vanish behind the spooling concrete wall
Mar 2017 · 351
Guilt
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Guilt

Northbound on the left hand shoulder
Even the most armored pads no match
For a glittering carpet of shattered glass
Pile shot through with steel shard, quick
Bite of burrowing wire, incongruous
As the blue cow I placed above a yellow
Felt board moon as a child, a pleasant
Memory that galls my new passenger
Dour as his spear is sharp, prodding me
Again and again as I watch the dog vanish
Behind a sweep of wall in the side view mirror.
Mar 2017 · 191
Vespers
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Vespers

What were you chanting  
from down the dry well
of our German coffee maker?  

A brusque Gute Nacht masking
the finesse required to defeat
the hinged plastic lid?

Begging bus fare
for the Silk Road
transparent,

even without mornings
bracing first cup.
A caution, then?  

Don’t leave bags unattended?
Know the warning signs of stroke?
Sleep like a baby, use two-step

authentication?
Your cloistered solitude,
fringed bulb of abdomen

whispered tonsure,
solitary choirmaster dwarfed
by cathedral walls

soaring graduated
into heavenly gloom
where I hovered on high,

my nightly routine
to summon The Flood,
deigning to lower

a spoon of salvation
while you wove a gossamer
chorale,  

working
the eight tiny shuttles
of your batons.
Mar 2017 · 166
repost
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Morning Spider

What were you trying to say
from down the dry well
of our German coffee maker?  
A brusque “guten Morgan”,
unworthy of the finesse required
to defeat the hinged plastic lid,
“****** off mate” belying
the English taste for tea,
begging bus fare for the Silk Road
transparent, even without a bracing first cup.
A caution, then?  
Don’t leave bags unattended,
know the warning signs of stroke,
sleep like a baby with two-step
authentication?  
But your solitude, small bare bulb
of abdomen, put me in mind
of a monks tonsure, choirmaster
alone in the apse, dwarfed
by vaulting cathedral walls
soaring seamless into heavenly gloom,
where I hover on high, indifferent
god commanding the flood waters,
bestowing random flies of mercy,
deigning to lower a spoon of salvation
while you weave a gossamer chorale,  
working the tiny shuttles of your batons.
Mar 2017 · 211
Morning Spider
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Morning Spider

What were you trying to say
from down the dry well
of the German coffee maker?  
A brusque “guten Morgan”
unworthy of the finesse required
to defeat the hinged plastic lid,
“****** off mate” belying
the English taste for tea,
begging bus fare for the Silk Road
transparent even without a bracing first cup.
A caution, then?  
Don’t leave bags unattended,
know the warning signs of stroke,
sleep like a baby
with two-step authentication?  
Choirmaster alone in the apse,
dwarfed by vaulting cathedral walls
soaring seamless into heavenly gloom,
where I hover on high, indifferent
god commanding flood water, bestowing
the random fly of mercy, deigning
to lower a spoon of salvation
while you weave a gossamer chorale, perhaps,
working the tiny shuttles your batons.
Feb 2017 · 187
All Your Secrets
Dave Hardin Feb 2017
All Your Secrets

What better time to tell me all your secrets
sitting by this window on the old dowagers
across the street, sure hand of dawn lifting
charcoal night to block in shapes of snow
covered roofs wreathed round by neural
bundles of trees piped with winter plaque,
ampules of porch light casting amber cones,

flare of first rays gilding eaves in gold leaf,
a shared delight to set the mood and loosen
your tongue, elevate the conversation beyond
soft intimations of endless settling, muffled
tick and creak from places deep within
you and me, distinctions blurred over time,
walls that could conceal brittle yellow

broadsheet reporting bi-partisan opposition
to the League of Nations and fears of a second  
outbreak of Spanish influenza, a foundation
balanced lightly on the head of a buffalo
nickel pressed into place by a superstitious
man who needed the money or a time capsule
rolled in oil skin tucked inside a copper box

packed in rock wool caged behind lathe,
curious secrets that sleep on while mine rouse
to internal revelries and emerge glistening
from fold and cleft to form up for the march
to the front, keeping cadence as one voice
faint but unmistakable, a sound you dismiss
as nothing more than wind, as friends will do.
Jan 2017 · 325
I Do Solemnly Swear
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Oath of Office

Melania or Barron, maybe old Joe Biden
will be standing by with a bucket to douse
the Bible left burning with a touch of evil.
Jan 2017 · 251
Untitled
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Gettysburg Address

A diaspora of stones make their way back, posted
by penitents keen to relieve long years of suffering.  
Late at night under desk light they put pen to paper,
insert shims of confession to wedge bits of Pennsylvania

scree into envelopes, a wary eye on talismans cocooned
in twists of tissue or sealed up tight inside zip lock bags,
ancient Alleghany seabed pocketed one hot August
afternoon in the Peach Orchard, palmed on impulse along

Cemetery Ridge, another bearing the mica glint that drew
the eye of a desultory adolescent moping in the long
shadow of Little Round Top twenty-three summers gone
now, before the untimely death of a sister or a budding career

in HR derailed on the heels of divorce, DUI and depression.  
How else to explain the plane crash, forfeiture of assets,
the shadow on the x-ray, the second one hundred year flood?  
In after hour twilight, tour buses long gone, gaudy chains

out on Route 15 humming, all with waits of an hour or more,
a National Park Service Ranger, a man about my age and mien,
doffs his flat brimmed lemon squeezer to retreat behind a desk,
leaf through a sheaf of petitions for mercy addressed in desperation.  

Silence pressing in from Culps Hill and Devils Den, the Wheatfield
and Seminary Ridge, he presses smooth a pane of stationary, eyes
closed, fingers brushing words of intention, box of stones at his feet,
heaped, indistinguishable as an unbroken line of advancing infantry.
Jan 2017 · 401
We say nyet
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Good Nyet, Soon

Sad late night Tweets
Staged comings and goings
To and from the tower
On Fifth Avenue
Red hat, white hat, ducks ***
Hair-do, sinister Kubrickian sons
The daughter of his darkest fantasies
Pay no attention, shiny surfaces blind
Us to henchmen nominees
Foreign creditors and deals done
In the shadow of onion domes
The Constitution assaulted, old girl
****** and humiliated as if
She were Miss Paraguay or
A high end St. Petersburg call girl
No, keep your eyes on the prize
Investigations and charges
Corruption in high places
Discovery and deposition
Congressional hearings and maybe,
Just maybe, our old pal impeachment.
Jan 2017 · 201
work in progress
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Lines Laid Down By Others

Days of measles spent cloaked in darkness
Veil of curtains and dime store sunglasses  
Between me and a sun gone cold with evil intent

Hell bent on robbing me of sight while I was busy
Looking inward tallying up the wages of sin
Bedeviled by an itch that needed scratching

Hands sheathed in white tube sock condoms  
To ward off nails rendered, I’d been warned, poison
As the fer-de-lance snake that glared back from the jungle

Overlay in the World Book Encyclopedia
Slammed shut for the sanctuary of a coloring book
Prophylactics and perpetual twilight incompatible

With proper grip and waltz of a crayon
To stay inside lines laid down by others
Alone in the dark with nothing left to lose

But Roy Orbison shades and a pit viper
Coiled, biding time pressed between pages
Made as much sense as a malevolent sun.
Jan 2017 · 287
revision
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Lines Laid Down By Others

Days of measles spent cloaked in twilight
Veil of curtains and dime store sunglasses  
Between me and a sun gone dark with evil intent
Hell bent on robbing my sight while I was busy
Looking inward tallying wage against sin
Bedeviled by an itch that needed scratching
Hands sheathed in white tube sock condoms  
To ward off nails rendered poison as the fer-de-lance
Snake that glared back from a steamy jungle
Overlay in the World Book Encyclopedia
Shelved for the sanctuary of a coloring book
Prophylactics and perpetual twilight incompatible
With proper grip and waltz of a crayon  
But the germ of a lifelong refusal to stay
Inside lines laid down by others.
Jan 2017 · 296
Viral origins
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Lines Laid Down By Others

Days of measles spent cloaked in twilight
Veil of curtains and dime store sunglasses  
Between me and a sun gone dark with evil intent
Hell bent on robbing my sight while I was busy
Looking inward tallying wage against sin
Bedeviled by an itch that needed scratching
Hands sheathed in white tube sock condoms  
To ward off nails rendered poison as the fer-de-lance
Snakes that glared back from steamy jungle overlays
In the World Book Encyclopedia, cotton prophylactics
Incompatible with the proper grip of a crayon  
But the germ of a lifelong refusal to stay
Inside lines laid down by others.
Dec 2016 · 192
group exercise
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
Strong Man

Sleep sound, dream sweet dreams
A strong man at the switch
Trouble no more, all peaches and cream
A strong man with an itch

Head for the mall, work on your tan
A strong man has your back
When things go south, he has a plan
A strong man, to tyranny he’ll tack  

Blow it up, the whole things broken
A strong man lights the fuse
The will to fix? You must be joking
A strong man wins, we lose

Feel free to retype and add a verse, or write new verses using the same title and pattern.
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
Strong Man

Sleep sound and dream sweet dreams
A strong man at the switch
Trouble no more, all peaches and cream
A strong man with an itch

Head for the mall, work on your tan
A strong man has your back
When things go south, he has a plan
A strong man, toward tyranny he’ll tack.
Dec 2016 · 236
reprise
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
The Last Bed We Buy

Grateful not to find myself
disembodied hovering high above
this stark cake of soap, gazing down
laboring to put names to faces, the couple
so familiar, side by side, palms down, still as

miller moths displayed on pins, I drift off  
to the drone of Bill or Ted, rumpled as
a morning after motel king intoning
soft or firm versus memory foam
or pillow top, hypoallergenic …

the last thing I hear before we fall
fast asleep spooning on a plush queen,
not too soft and not too hard, but just right,
satiny raft to ferry us the last stretch of river.
Waving like the Queen we float past the last new

roof over which we will preside, nod in solemn
recognition of our high efficiency gas furnace
apt to burn on years after I’m gone, applaud
politely what jolly well may be a farewell
drive north through the Tunnel of Trees

some biting October afternoon, weep
softly for our old squirrel chaser sawing
soft imprecations to hips gone tender some
blustery April night dog years from now, blow
low Bronx cheers in a fond adieu to life mediated

through screens. Even Bill or Ted knows that grace
lies just ahead around the next oxbow, leaves us
to dream, two dormice cupped in a leaf, rills
and eddies bearing us seaward, buoying us
downstream on softly rolling shoulders.
Dec 2016 · 687
Wrestling My Father
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
Wrestling My Father

The scent of gasoline and lanoline lingers
mingled with sweat and Old Spice, menthol
Winston’s from back before you gave them up

for good persist in half-life beneath Vitalis
sheen and Listerine, waves of Bengay radiating
off red hot coals of trapezius muscles seized

inside a white V neck tee from Monkey Wards,
thin cotton canvas worked with small fevered hands,
greedy, slathering claim, leaving myself open to

reversal and the pin, sting of ancient rug burn
still gracing my cheek, palms pressed to face inhaling
what little I can of you by lung full.
Dec 2016 · 242
The Last Bed We Buy
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
The Last Bed We Buy

Should I be grateful not to find myself
disembodied hovering high above this stark
cake of soap, gazing down, laboring to put
names to faces, the couple so familiar,
side by side, palms down, still as miller

moths displayed on pins, our salesman,
Bill or Ted, rumpled like a morning after
motel king, reading my mind, musing on
this pair of worn porcelain dolls
painted in chipped shades of hesitation?  

Soft or firm versus memory foam or pillow top?  

Hypoallergenic pipes Ted or Bill, the last thing
I hear before we drift off spooning on a queen,
one not too soft and not too hard, but just right,
a satiny raft to ferry us the final stretch of river.

Waving like Queens we float on by the last new
roof over which we will preside, a nod of recognition
for the last new water heater, too.  Applaud politely  
our farewell drive through the Tunnel of Trees

one biting October afternoon in the not so distant future.
Cluck our tongues for the poor dog snoring soft
imprecations to hips gone tender some coming
rainy April night.  Blow twin Bronx cheers,

fat, wet, and sloppy, as we bid adieu to one last
shameless act of televised hubris.  Grace lies
ahead around the next oxbow, two dormice
cupped in a leaf, rills and eddies conveying us
to the sea on softly rolling shoulders.
Dec 2016 · 219
The Last Bed
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
The Last Bed

I should be grateful not to find myself disembodied,
hovering high above this stark cake of soap,
gazing down laboring to put names to faces,

the couple so familiar, side by side, palms down,
still as miller moths displayed on pins, our salesman,
Bill or Ted, rumpled like a morning after
motel king, reading my mind, musing
on this pair of worn porcelain dolls
painted in chipped shades of hesitation.  

Soft or firm versus memory foam or pillow top?  
Hypoallergenic, says Ted or Bill, the last thing
I hear before we drift off spooning on a queen
that is not too soft and not too hard, but just right
for ferrying us down this final stretch of river

past the last roof we’ll put on the house,
one last drive through the Tunnel of Trees,
the dog snoring soft imprecations to tender hips
on his old bed some rainy April night.

Two dormice cupped in a leaf
rills and eddies conveying us to the sea
on softly rolling shoulders.
Nov 2016 · 406
Night Coming On
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Night Coming On

Sun going down spindled our shadows
to Giacometti bronze,  
three old friends on a standing
six mile walk, streetlights sputtering
indignation at a dismal election
more final referendum
on the Enlightenment itself,
casting us in unflattering light,
angry white men, for all you knew,
wreathed in the sour mist
of seething resentment,
bas relief of your shadowed face
a dry wadi of worry
framed with care within
the folds of your hijab.  
Desperation, oncoming night,
courage in the face of our disgraceful
descent into darkness,
God only knows what drove you
to ignore the little voice
in your head, steer to the curb to ask
directions to the community college.  
You can’t miss it, finning my hand
down Washington
in a puny act of supplication,
past holiday lights and shoppers,
past this bar where we sit
huddled over beer,
watching in disbelief,
news of night coming on.
Nov 2016 · 213
Lost, Night Coming On
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Lost, Night Coming On

Sun going down on a six mile walk
honed our shadows to Giacometti bronze,  
three old friends, a bit of spring yet in their step,
streetlights sputtering indignation at a dismal election
more referendum on the Enlightenment itself,
casting us, perhaps, in unflattering light,
a triptych of angry white men wreathed
in the sour mist of resentment for all you knew,
bas relief of your shadowed face
a dry wadi of worry framed with care within
the folds of your headscarf.  Desperation,
oncoming night, courage in the face of our
disgraceful descent into darkness,
God only knows what drove you
to ignore the little voice in your head,
pull the car to the curb and ask
the way to the local community college
just a few blocks south on Washington, past
the first light, parking garage on your left,
you can’t miss it, finning my hand
down the street, past the bar
where soon we would huddle over beer,
watching in disbelief, news of night
coming on.
Nov 2016 · 745
Draw The Lumberjack
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Draw The Lumberjack

His toque screamed French Canadian,
Jacques perhaps, prominent nose
broken in a brawl over a woman named Suzette or
a close brush with a widow maker,
****** Niagara soaking his flannel shirt,
dripping from the delta of lines describing
a beard reeking of cigarettes and bug dope
trimmed, if he trimmed at all,
with a sliver of band saw blade
stuck fast in a lump of tree gum,
whiskers, after all, affording
a degree of protection from clouds of black flies,
one twinkling eye nesting in a profile
crinkled by wood smoke and ribald
bunkhouse jokes, widening in mock surprise
at a sour note from a squeezebox broken
on a drunken Saturday night,
fanciful elements  I avoided drawing
in a slow, steady hand, embellishment
sure to queer my chances with the juror
poised to swing a bottle of champagne
against the stern of my boat
load of God-given talent, a launch
I await patiently after all these years
taking a break from the two man
cross cut saw, smoking
in the shade of all these doomed trees.
Nov 2016 · 320
We Implore
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
We Implore

How in Your name do you do it  
night and day, day and night,
weather the whiteout of words,

mad scribble of mother tongue,
those heart rending howls
packing power enough to jolt

stolen celestial cat naps
hunt You down holed up
under alias disguised

at the wispy tip of some
far flung finger of cloud or,
as I like to picture it, waiting

at a light draped low in a pearlescent
Lincoln MKZ with tinted windows,
following the progress of some pilgrim

brandishing a hand lettered sign
like the relic of a martyr, silently
praying for the green.
Nov 2016 · 276
Ukiyo-e
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Ukiyo-e

Thin curls coaxed from the grain
released from all claim by the dogged
rooting of the spoon gouge

bone white ribbon
easing itself to the fragrant floor
spiral cherry rivulet lost in the churn

at the feet of the carver, the first
thing I remember. A churlish man
as I recall, the burl of his squint

screening detail and smoke
from his cigarette, blue double
helix rising in mirror image

a lowering ceiling steeping
his head in stormy weather
gimlet eye weighing heavy seas

a tempest lipping
the canted rim of a petal thin
tea cup, striated wave

reaching for the heavens
top lopped clean by sheering wind
the fluter and the veiner alive and biting

in the hands of the carver who cuts me free
at last, rendered in stark relief at
the boiling crest of the surf break.
old poem, something about Japanese wood cut
Nov 2016 · 234
Winter
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Winter

On a beach last summer between
Munising and Grand Marais
a glitch in the space-time continuum
a case of Someone dropping the ball
rent a nasty tear in the firmament
a real doozy I would have missed
but for the high voltage bite of a stable fly
that wrenched me into the letter Z
upended the blue horizon long enough
to catch a glimpse of winter
gunmetal grey behind summers
drooping curtain, a fluke of nature
like the platypus
like a knuckleballer  
like improvisational jazz
but I still pause in warm April rain  
beneath golden autumn leaves
while pressing a beaded bottle of beer
to the scar on my neck
hot July afternoons and listen
for the icy bite of my name
a faint rhythm
building to crescendo.
Nov 2016 · 425
We Implore
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
We Implore

How in Your name do You do it  
night and day, day and night,
weather the whiteout of words,

scribble of mother tongue
uttered under the breath,
those heart rending howls

packing power enough to jolt
the odd celestial cat nap,
hunt You down holed up

under alias, disguised
at the wispy tip of some
far flung finger of cloud,

or, as I like to picture it,
sitting at a light draped
in a pearlescent Lincoln MKZ

with tinted windows, elbow
on the console, following
the approach of a pilgrim

brandishing a hand lettered
sign like the relic of a martyr,
silently praying for the green.
new edit
Nov 2016 · 402
We Implore
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
We Implore

How in Your name do you do it?  
Night and day, day and night,
a whiteout of words,

scribble of mother tongue
uttered beneath the breath,
those rending howls

packing power enough to jolt
the odd celestial cat nap,
find You holed up under alias

disguised at the wispy tip
of some far flung finger of cloud,
or sitting at the light

in a pearlescent Lincoln MKZ
with tinted windows, leaning
slightly to midline tracking

the approach of a woman brandishing
a hand lettered sign like the relic of a martyr,
praying for the light to change.
Nov 2016 · 314
Rainy Spring Morning
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Rainy Spring Morning

Rainy spring morning is older now
slower, less inclined to bound
up the down staircase or greet
dawn with a drop jaw slap
to the forehead, night
somehow no longer young, drinking
whole days in breathless gulps from a pail
knobby throat exposed, bobbing
lewd and naked, heedless
of a sopping shirt, unaware
exactly when he took to sipping primly
from the lip of the minute cup
a careful hand cupped to a careless chin
catching the gesture
in the window
above the sink
beneath the sleeve
of light that smears charcoal features
and quotes from windows past
the glow that drew him
on his way to school
tucked back in the shadow of huddled
trees, new leaves sluicing rain in whispers
onto the backs of sidewalk worms.  
Rainy spring morning twists the band
on his cudgel finger
mate to the one you wear
dialing in this hypnotic spell of molten gold
a boy for a moment  
lingering in front of a house
upturned palm catching creamy light
that runs through his fingers
and pools around his half buckled boots.
Nov 2016 · 310
Rain, Steam .....
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Rain, Steam and Speed-The Great Western Railway
(J. M. W. Turner)

Life between the rails
Price paid for rhythm
Working its way
Into the conversation we have
With the couple from Kamloops
Over drinks in the bar car
Elongated shadows of stem ware
Clocking snow white prairie  
Dotted with one stoplight words
Nothing more
Than a few boarded up syllables
Struggling vowels of a diner
Slash package store
Emphatic final
Consonants of grain elevators
Trailing off into long stretches of silence
Stealing glimpses of the future
On grand sweeping curves
While the past rifles
Our pockets on the perfect
Parallel track of the here and now.
Nov 2016 · 371
Stem
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Stem

Let them flare against saucer blue skies
School on biting wind, rattle bones to ward  
Off waves that claw the breadth of reach

West of Spray Falls, drunk on summer liquor
Flush and masked for a night to remember
Letting go beyond them, my final act a mercy.
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Edgewood Elementary Spring Review

Richard Bryant played The Boy with me
in the role of The Father
inspired casting in the months following

The March On Washington
For Jobs And Freedom  
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

I recall Mr. Conti’s stage direction:
remain silent for one full minute before speaking.
Richard at my feet, flour in my hair.

Richard who lived
north of the plastics factory
in the colored trace cast

as an inquisitive child
to my detached adult
asked questions like

Why is the sky blue?
Which came first
the chicken or the egg?

My character puffed
on a prop pipe, hid behind
The Detroit Free Press, replied

I don’t know son again and again
conveying laconic vacuity
through clenched teeth.

I recall laughter when Richard
telegraphed my punchline
Son, how are you going to learn anything if you don’t …

Perhaps Mr. Conti
would have revised the script
had he any inkling of the uprising

that would consume the city
in three short years or written
new dialogue fifty-five years later:

A grave father explaining
survival to his wide eyed son
in an enlightened age.
Oct 2016 · 261
Still Life With Apples
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Still Life With Apples

Cezanne would ignore the grain
omit the quarter moon flute
burned quarter inch deep
pay scant attention
to your recollection  
of the barn in Armada
rinsed to a rumor of red
listen politely as you paint
a picture of the man who ran
the orphanage for bedsteads
wardrobes and sideboards
steal glances at his watch
while you play both parts
retelling the horse trade
eyebrows frantic to escape
gravity
your own straining
to lift off and boomerang
around the circumference of the table
lighting on the ordinal
points of countless dinners
apples
in the mind’s eye of the artist
flocking like birds
defying gravity
on the dizzy oval of oak.
Oct 2016 · 324
Chicago Common Brick
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Chicago Common Brick

The Great Fire
ancient history by the time
we take our morning stroll out
Belmont Avenue to Lake Shore Drive
skirting pandemonium’s
high water mark where wails
from Randolph Street Bridge
would have rang thin as rhyme
on wax cylinder
City of the Big Shoulders
rebuilt to resist fire, lure you away
with its siren song, careless lyrics
I yearn to rewrite and sing to you
as we cross Halstead oblivious  
to Chicago common brick
prairie dun and durable
second story turrets
biding time until streetlights
render them details in a Hopper painting.
Oct 2016 · 254
Blank
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Blank

Father was a quarryman, hands at home
On a welded wheel, fingers stiff waiting on sun
To clear the lip of the pit, an artist is his own right

Content to read the grain through an emery palm
Leave the rest to rain and wind.  Mother on the other
Hand was a chiseler with a syncopated mallet

No stranger to fluter and veiner, fine dust felting
Her coffee, laboring late, ankle deep in drifting flake
Humming as she whittled to the quick.  

One morning, seeing my chance, right hand freed
In the wee, wee hours, I hacked out feet and a face
Only a mother could love, raking footprints clean as I left.
Oct 2016 · 422
Birds of Prey
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Birds of Prey

All the information I need
just flew by the window
where I sit gazing at brachial trees
bare against China blue sky
Arvy’s sycamore buttered
thick with morning sun
sparrows ducking in and out
of the attic next door under
the baleful eye of the dog
lazing on the rug beside me
oblivious to a mating
pair of hawks at ten o’clock
hard at it while I while
morning away feeling
a little bit guilty
about my lack of talons
but then again a hapless sparrow
caught out
is a nasty bit of business
worth avoiding for someone
so ill suited to the work
of birds of prey.
Next page