Dennis Hinrichsen


                                             Galveston, oh Galveston
                                             I am so afraid of dying

                                             —O pristine city of the brain // water rising
along the Texas coast // when I am no longer shore enough for you
to keep loving me & I can’t // or won’t // now anger licking clean its 
plate // a name forgotten // wife // daughter // even the beloved dog
who hunkered against my leg for warmth because she was hurt
that time in California when I was young & Erin was cooking & 
Sophie’s feet were sore from all the hiking & so she was rubbing them 
hard // both hands // & we were drinking beers & letting the television 
run // that last place they lived in Oakland I’m pretty sure // West
Street // just down from Montgomery BART // all this remembering
just me exiting right before your eyes // last train // last trick //
a prestige // —O Galveston dear Galveston please grant me one last song
to play until the Southwest is cathedral in my eyes again & my
wife can see // too // what I am dreaming—that day at Chaco // Pueblo
Bonito // when we leaned against the inner walls & let the tourists pass 
like some tech-savvy tribe // tour bus idling // covered w/dust & next
world elsewhere // until they were gone & we were still alive //
inside our bodies // these ruins // & desert wind alone was our music 

[BOX OF LIGHT W/MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM IN IT] or [limitless icy wastes] 

                              Show rock concert, show sex, show icy wastes of Antarctica. 
                              Repeat eight times. That's essentially the structure of 
                              Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, a movie that marks an 
                              important director's attempt to deal with explicit sex.
                                  	“Songs Doesn’t Score,” Roger Ebert

     —won’t see love like this anytime soon // not really backlit but 
still a fin of loveliness there // radio on // high in the dark // soft 
notes // old jazz // but not really listened to // it was concentration //
pooling // we were after // stratas of ice & melting // minimal
—yes—but mouth // monotonous—yes // but tongue // our 
conversation wisps of fingertips & breathing // I’d revealed secrets // 
there was a sash // I expected she would not keep them // the 
infinitesimally subtle betrayals happening elsewhere // in rooms less 
white so there was always then // at least // illusions of honesty // in 
another world less Mediterranean with sunlight // —O limitless icy
wastes // you are byproduct now // part memory & dying // little cuts
of time that are me fast forwarding to naked bodies writhing 


                              			—O gon-uh-ree-uh I can spell you now

you are a burn again in a man in England you are so keen
to live as does this newsfeed desiring to be my virus // 
I think both of you infect me now // I have to put my phone
down to cure a little package of time // put my poem
down // but still the idea infects the brain // —O gonorrhea
you hack your self to hack the body // you plagiarize & collage
another bacteria’s resistant codes // you will be Godzilla soon //
you will be MRSA // because that’s the form our savior
takes—a little cleansing first & then a body count // that’s how
my mother counted all the way to 1 // that residual wetness
that was her last living breathing so imbued w/resistance
I barely touched her so afraid of contagion // & then that lizard
face—I thought you were our friend—bending down to melt
all the brittle rods & cones—those dying eyes—w/atomic breath


			—what happened is this // I got old //
I got sentimental // I fell in love with everything //
EXAMPLE—James Booker—the Bayou Maharajah—
that was easy // EXAMPLE—Jerry Lewis—that was hard //
but it was spring & there was big noise in the yard
& so I said yes // many times yes // yes
to that cascade of notes—to Vitalis-slicked hair //
manicured nails // I preferred the chandelier
in the brain but most days I was just a 60 watt bulb
w/face & eyes // if I got my hands on a dog
when I was out for a walk—great—
or heard a red-winged blackbird down by the river
(they are suddenly just here // they weren’t last year)—
or maybe I just watched two or three minutes
of a kid’s first bicycle ride // yeah // that’s what love is //
a tense wobbly ride over busted concrete //
helmet like a piece of outer space // until you crash //
yeah // love crashes // but you get back up //
tighten that strap & power down the sidewalk // streamers
flying // legs churning that impossibly easy gear
twice the speed of the wheels // pedals the color of popsicles

Dennis Hinrichsen's most recent work is This Is Where I Live I Have Nowhere Else To Go, winner of the 2020 Grid Press Poetry Prize. New poems in a number of US print and online journals including The American Journal of Poetry, The Maine Review, Map Literary and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. He lives in Lansing, Michigan.
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