There’s no shade in this New World like the hemlock
for settling the liver, uncoiling fish-shaped pancreas—
or just forgetting. I trample paths through burdock,
groom myself with crow’s wing, to cool my night-sweats.
When sunlight fixes me in place for daytime’s lapse,
I like to ground my limbs under the live oak tree
outside my wife’s new office, branch above the stacks
of papers there. Slow surge—I spread to see her stately
hips and bum, long, round thighs, her downward dog
to cobra pose, the arc of sweat, ecstatic drops
splattering on her yoga mat. After her evening jog,
she rubs my trunk, stretches like ivy. She stops
to sort me like a jolt of chlorophyll, her entire
elegant fist stuck in my knothole, a secret place
for keys and notes, old rings and diaphragm, wax figure
of what I've become, photos of my younger face.
Even the young Augustine would be no match
for Ativan’s airless latch, and there’s no grace
quite like his Grace who accords each urge
its place, then hastens through good nights:
bedded, celestially unshaken, he’s shirred
all weight, the drapes of consciousness closed,
doubts chased, words left unstirred. Hippo supposed
chastity, continence, should come—but not yet.
Not young, I’m still in heat. Forget the sleep
of sheep beneath southering flocks of geese,
the drug’s sweet release from grief, hollow clouds
settling down, softening the sheets. I’ll mete
time grooming, cleaning teeth: even without,
some nights I sleep. Come uncoupled, complete.
JOHN HENNESSY is the author of Bridge and Tunnel (Turning Point Books/Word Press, 2007), a collection of poems, and his work appears in many journals and anthologies, including The New Republic, Poetry, The Yale Review, New Letters, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, Jacket (Australia), Salt (UK), Harvard Review, What’s Your Exit? A Literary Detour Through New Jersey, Poetry Daily, and Best New Poets 2005. Hennessy is a contributing editor to Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics, and he is the poetry editor of The Common, a magazine based at Amherst College. In 2007-2008 he held the Resident Fellowship in Poetry at the Amy Clampitt House. Hennessy went to Princeton University on a Cane scholarship and received graduate degrees from the Univerity of Texas at Austin and the University of Arkansas; he teaches at the University of Massachusetts and lives in Amherst.