David Hawkins

Sure, all this could be yours, so much otherness
The teeth hurt, a roll of bills clutched
In the deliveryboy's one hand, a nylon windbreaker
Torn a bit & bunched beneath the elm, but I’m not
About to deliver you, you must see it for yourself,
The particular ignescent of asphalt caught this way,
Thirty-five-km-per-hour & skimming
The surface, the night bearing down, porchlights
& streetlamps snapping on along the pink cobbled paths,
The city sputtering we, we, we—or was it only oui, oui?—
While beyond the berm the périphérique
Bubbles over like milk-mot, droozed in kitch-light,
In yellow light the afterthought of light, indifferent
In that way that wounds us, but not really, just so we think
The traffic solemn, sober, maybe even a bit dejected, continually
Absenting itself from us, spilling out into other darknesses.







As I remember it, I wrote the poem during a period when I was enthusiastically reading Eastern European poets (Kocbek, Holub, Lilliana Ursu, Nezval, Jaroslav Seifert—as well as some of the region's better known writers (for Western readers), including Herbert and Popa), and a few post-Soviet novelist and short-story writers. Of course, the poem reflects none of this in any overt way, so go figure.