Three poems by Alec Hershman

Alec Hershman

Alec Hershman

Alec Hershman lives in St. Louis where he teaches at The Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. Other poems are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Burnside ReviewThe Journal, Yemassee, Lumina, and The Sycamore Review. His chapbook length sequence Jollyboats can be viewed for free online at The White Whale Review.

Next of Kin

—for David

Some nights leave the lights on.
Some nights write You will always have a home
in the past into the dry earth
and what's left of the grass. My hands
still smell like coins. The ripples
echo in the wish, extend in the will.
To go about putting money
until there is no more money to put-
no empirical stave
to ward off cannibals and shrugs.
This is my lot in life. Next to my lot in life.
The dignity of the workday
a mere light around the rind. Pared down,
I too am a simple creature
possessed of none of my own apologies.
And so run stark. And flicker
in the weird. And do not move
or laugh when, perhaps, I ought to.
If anything is a grace like a boulder
it is my friend. My friend.




Between Mercies

Everywhere were animal lives
lit with impending-
each shying off
with its particular indication
of elsewhere, or else
foraging, then un-foraging
by rote what cannot
be found even once, or
especially because,
one has dug a hole to find it.
Even the trees suggested
if not a seasonal thickness
abating, then at least
an abundance-
of birds, of virtues,
the waning of which
spared the field. And down
its southern edge, the sky
picked up where the road
failed-its clean proximities
across which the many wings
choreographed their warning-
their folding-upon-
then-through-itself blanket
of air, and after,
they seemed to favor
the one tree that, having let
already the sky come
through it somewhat,
continued its widening reception
of the cold, of the new light
and the darker still
swirl of grackles-I could tell
already that his body
was neither a necessary
deprivation nor a shelter
long enough to hold me-sex,
being one of the sources,
yes-but also the language
in which everything
can't be said at once-

-when he pulled away
even the birds
turned, shifted somewhat
their awkward arrangement
around the lower
branches, and the tree
leaning in its isolation
was not a tree, was not
a landscape-no,
it was more leavable than that.





One of the dogs is tearing grasses from the lake.
He would like to bring you
a saving shard of summer
to hang upon your winter wall of slats, your den of kettles
and make-dos-an impossible gift he will give up
for the scent of rabbits. Still,
you think to assess water
you must match rounds: eyelid, shore; breast in the palm
of a now-dead lover. Today
you are the only one awake for miles,
the lake riffling sky, your skin rising in the wind,
and the dogs moving deeper in the weeds away...
You cannot tell solitude
from independence-proud loneliness disturbs the memory:
you slide a hand up to his shoulder, his good arm
running a pulse down to carpenter's fingers-and so what
if still you may be a bit wooden-a branch to snap
to know it's green.