August 8-14, 2011: David Brendan Hopes and Timothy Dyson

week of August 8-14, 2011

David Brendan Hopes and Timothy Dyson

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David Brendan Hopes

Bio (auto)

David Brendan Hopes is professor of literature and language at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, an actor, painter, and widely produced playwright. He is the author of the Juniper Prize and Saxifrage Prize winning book, The Glacier’s Daughters, and of Blood Rose (Urthona Press, 1997), the Pulitzer and National-Book Award-nominated A Childhood in the Milky Way (Akron University Press), and the volumes of nature essays, A Sense of the Morning (1999) and Bird Songs of the Mesozoic, from Milkweed Editions. The latest, full-length poetry collection A Dream of Adonis appeared from Pecan Grove Press. His works has appeared in periodicals such as The New Yorker, Audubon, Christopher Street, Connecticut Review, The Sun.

The following work is Copyright © 2011, and owned by David Brendan Hopes and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

On Those Days When I Thought
Love Would Save Me

On those days when I thought love would save me
the furnace would be out and I would have to wallow in the crawl space
with the unfamiliar tools in my hand, banging at the hellish thing,
making comparison, whether I would or no, between it
and the beating heart of all the world, all that stubbornness
and cold, liable to leap to flame with your hand still in it,
liable to bank its fires until you freeze and move away and
then come forth in splendor, wondering why you didn’t wait
just that moment longer–
why, just that moment longer,
you didn’t bet on it against
all testimony of soul and sense, and

On those days when I thought love would save me
the east in its flamingo and slate and the west
in flame of martial gold would sing the songs of work, of war,
of Mystery, of self-help with its stupid smile, of money
in the gray vault, all the songs but love, and I would
wonder if I’d come late, or to the wrong place, or all the
matter of love was closed, used up by knights and geishas
and those Hollywood types with the battlements of teeth,
and me standing there murmuring “love, dove, above”
like some Achilles with his brains knocked out,
surveying the windy plain,
no idea, anymore, of what brought him there.

On those days when I thought love would save me
I would be startled from sleep by voices that I took for yours
whether forgiving or asking forgiveness didn’t matter,
for the tone they had of come, come, and, believe me,
I would come, to the window, to the door, the wings on my heels
stirring the dust of household neglect, and needless to say
It would be not you but some everyday thing that I would hate
for a moment for your sake, an old song on an old CD,
the postman with something to sign at the door, the cats tumbling,
a branch a-scrape a window,
the nothing that becomes
the everything of distracted life.

And when I think I could have been one of the heroes of love
I blame you for potential unfulfilled; I blame you
for the morbid watchfulness, the unhealthy concentration
on the motion of exterior things, the flutter of an eyelid,
the bunch of a muscle under tight cloth, the way the tongue
stays in the middle of a word, and when it finishes
the world is changed. Because of you I see them all,
in the still beauty of the morning, after the wide eyes of the night:
widows who think they must remember the one dream
dreamed over and over,
bachelors grieving
for their cats.

On those days when I thought love would save me–
the truth is— I see now— that I had been
drinking those cups of coffee, paying for refill after refill
with the waitress giving me the eye that says I should start over
and pay again for a first cup, I had been planted in cafes
and unquiet bistros like a clam fastened to the bottom of a bay
because I have been waiting. Perhaps I read too many books,
but I believe it happens, sometimes, one sitting at a cafe table
in exactly the right light, the flawless dapple
of sun
and inadvertency,
and sycamore,

for once exactly concentrated on one’s tasks, when another comes,
another asks if he might sit down, and you answer
grudgingly he might, trying to figure where
you know him from, to imagine why he didn’t choose
the empty tables on all sides, except that they
are too much in the sun or too much in the shade,
and he will use that for an excuse. . .
waiting, I say, for this, the random, complicated descent. . .
or, not so random, of the one summoned
to the half-conscious
to the looking-around-for-the candid camera

And one wishes one’s opening comment didn’t sound
so much like Rilke, whom one had been reading,
maybe more like Whitman, a guffaw of welcome,
the arms open to receive like God’s gold bear,
a leer of Herrick over streets made suddenly green fields.
One fights the impulse politely to gather up one’s things,
flustered, pretending to think you have taken too much cafe time,
“Oh, I was just leaving. . . Oh, I’ll just sit over here,
I’m expecting someone. . . .” None of that this time,
not now,
it is much too late for that.

Now, it is not true that everything must be done the slow way.
Should you speak, should the moment come upon me,
the moment I was waiting for, I think now,
after this welter of hesitations, I would be ready,
that the answer would be yes, and after “yes,”
the thousand yeses that are the after-breathing of the storm.
You’ve always sought a hero, someone to go up
like Roman candles, waving his giant arms in the twilight,
oblivious to current trends, deficient in people-skills,
glorious. Buddy, it’s me.

For some reason it surprises me that you grew young as I grew up,
became a youth as I became a man.
And approach you now, a soft-eyed boy,
Adam a thousand years before the Fall, tying me
to promises a man of my experience should be laughing at.
Nevertheless, after we have had our coffee and Danish,
after we have waved our hands at funny things
happening there and there, we will meet together
at the agreed-on hour, the white gleam of our divisions
too subtle
around us
for the laity to see.

On those days when I thought love would never save me,
when I thought heart and soul were two skew chaoses at war,
insane Montague, blood-sucking Capulet, on those bad days,
on those clock-turns I was taught were all the world,
I cried to your back retreating down the moon-lashed street:
Suppose we stop this stupid war
and admit that we have always been in love,
stone-still in the doorway,
watching over each other’s sleep, besotted.
Oh, you turned then,
looked back,
as though the moon had spoken.

Oh beautiful says the mountain to the gray mist coming at it
in the single hour before morning. Beautiful
says the shell under the gray wave breaking.
That chorus of beauty as the sun moves, kissing all.
Beautiful say I at a distance, so you will not hear.
That clarity, that white beam walking before you where you walk,
the coronet of swans above, visible for miles,
the old stories you must kick away like debris
from your shoes at a neighbor’s door
must instill
a sense
of confidence.

So it is hard to understand your waiting for me in the shimmer
between sunset and moonrise, your hunger
for the food of my body, delving in, and down, hard,
except what in the deeps of night I know:
behind my body lifts an eminence, an entity in swan-shape,
mysterious and vast, wings shot with stars,
to which there is no end, its dark breast
settling with love upon all waters, as I in waking
dare to settle upon nothing, not you– except that song
coming out of me
in wisdom past the wisdom
In red beyond God’s rose, for you.

Out in the sweet morning dark the first gold leaves are falling.
The hummingbirds I have fed all summer rise and drink
and take the flowers of themselves unto the flowers of the south.
It is a morning to open the bedroom windows on,
to phone beautiful disreputables, to buy on credit
someyhing to conceal the gaps, amassing resources,
plugging the holes our adversaries in times past flowed through,
gathering that jackass fortitude we have, Athena in the clown suit,
“Force” and “Futility” written on the knuckles of our fists,
that wisdom
so like folly
God Himself must look again.

Timothy Dyson

Bio (auto)

After a corp career in HR, I got back to writing again. poems of mine are upcoming in Off the Coast, WORK and River Poets Journal and have appeared in several other publications. thanks for your professional consideration.

The following work is Copyright © 2011, and owned by Timothy Dyson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


He bought the land, gorgeous rolling hill
in South Central Virginia
he plotted circumferences
looking west as on Salisbury Plain.

In one of those portable construction trailers,
he’d sip morning coffee, imagining
how the seasons would age his masterpiece,
the steel and Styrofoam.

How grand it must be
to actually make something happen, to
marvel at replicated, Druidic
solstice rocks.

He could’ve gone so far as to
rename his supplier, Welsh Stone Transport
could’ve hired—but that time
had flown, had moved a quarter mile east
across southbound Route 11,

Careful, careful
today, they are bringing in the pterodactyl.

Just Visiting

We had sleeping bags good to thirty below,
A two-burner Coleman camp stove
And some excellent Vermont cheese
Along with hunks of fresh made sourdough.
Winter camping on the edge a town reservoir
When the stars loom silvery over bare trees,
The only sounds are those of animals
Making their rounds in the white emptiness.
A breaking branch somewhere further up
The mountainside, a signal to those ensconced
On mats of fir, pieces of egg crate foam.
Axed up pieces of ice heated up for ginseng tea,
The light from our lantern like a bullseye,
Our village like a base camp of fireflies
In the painless space between us and the river.
We never really knew what kind of species
Roamed the Green Mountains that time of year.
It snowed during the night and if you had been
Looking for us, it was like we were never there.
There were fresh tracks nearby, not ours.



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