Alec Hershman

Some Days You Feel Like a Cartoon

for Merrill Gilfillan

As an owl with 360 degrees of face, I say
no to the branch I'm offered. 
To the other branch,
I'm blond appearances. Glints like fish-hope
rock on water.              I am added to no one, 
buoyant on misers, and cut from mistakes—
paper torn in a cyclone from train windows, 
a smear of falderol through the laughter 
of foliage. One minute,
a wing; the next I'm strung 
on swallowed seeds, dispatched 
from murk to earth

which has gravel for impunity, 
a glacier of psychosis in its eye, 
grows hair on destinations, 
without lips, a song regardless, 

to which—who knows—the words—    yet

Commission of Lunacy

My own slip and tinker was modeled
by a man with golden fingers and stonish
disinterest in my lips etc. I aped his dandy
brunching. Like parchment curled with virtue
at a match, I tested endives on my loftiest ideas.
Ordinary and obliged I grew, participial in diet.
I became insane with bridges. I threw myself
at limping uncles loping elsewhere.
Having spent a liquid eon with my hand
upraised, I take it back, now. Here, like an asteroid
would make a bad nest of my palm. In poetry,
all such knowledge gets melted down to hunch;
the overheadedness of a rocket's in the duck.
Against the catch, my stretch over mattering
elapses. I could never be married. The body's
a vector. If death uses seeds, they may well be books.

The Moon is a Satellite Dish

The ring question of weight
into trees, elevator

footprints, and tread upon ice is did

I move you? Am I sterling
as a pillar crouched

of pomade and of smoke—
the risky man you meet for the rest

of your life in a bowling alley,
while sleepy truckers turn the interstate

to paper-mache. Either way, I'm rakish
in the bones of boozy light motels throw off.

The worst names I've ever been called
are all tooth and cigar, and the finger

swollen. They want to lodge me
like halogen, or plumb me like a snake.

There's a scab I wear like a hat;
like a cat, I lower my ears

to put it on. There's a little angel made
of dough and shame, who in a windshear

has gone wingless. Slow crumble in the rock cuts,
giving out. That there will be nothing left

is the emergency, and liquor—liquor shines it.

Taken Daily

From the bench I watch a duck become
a dash of tail in a crux of water.
The midyear trees are hazy, sewn
with bees singing Nothing
like work to make wide arms

for the need of open space,
the wind to move a little,
the people to light the coals
to roast the food in leisure.
Nothing like work to help forget
my privacy. Death, the groom,
is atomic, the melon engagement
that glints with ants, borne
of massive fidgeting. I dream
myself peninsular, my friend,
a tendril like me, and the water,
dull, commits our eyes to muscats.
It's not just money that hugs me
like a rickshaw; a velveteen notion
of eagles I believe in is only a curtain
for a version of me as tremendous
glue, candidly brief, skinned alive.

Alec Hershman is the author of The Egg Goes Under (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017) and Permanent and Wonderful Storage (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). He has received awards from the KHN Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, Playa, The Virginia Creative Center for the Arts, and The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. He lives in Michigan where he teaches writing and literature to college students. You can learn more at alechershmanpoetry.com.
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