Charles O. Hartman

Four Square and Enthralled
December 21, 2020 Hartman Charles O.

Four Square


Mornings I give thanks
to my nightly self
who sets the machine
for the coffee each
next day needs. Needs more—
but here’s this!
tired and I wanna
go to bedI work
to recollect, out
of the fragments, that
person tomorrow
can be grateful to.
When people say what
goes around comes home
this is the smallest
circuit they can mean.




Her dress swells in the wind
and her hair waving in it
resembles the tendrils of bougainvillea,
which in Greek is bougainvillea.
She stares, or is meant
to stare, at nothing,
which signifies something interior.


She stands as if astonished.
Sometimes her whole body
shivers stiffly in the designer breeze.
The swivel of her right wrist,
a line like a bracelet of black thread,
is turned in the downward orientation
that says: I am imagining


something bulbous I might seize for pleasure
or power, such as a gearshift.
Her left hand is hidden
behind the scarf thrown over her shoulder,
a shade to complement her dress and looking
as if it ought to tickle.
She can shrug it off


no better than she can shy away
from the shop front and her sister
across the doorway, lolling in a more
deeply pensive, downcast attitude.
For a while the owner
stood by them, still (except for her cigarette)
as the girls on the Acropolis.

Charles O. Hartman has published eight collections of poetry, including Downfall of the Straight Line (Arrowsmith Press, forthcoming 2024), as well as books on jazz and song (Jazz Text, Princeton 1991) and on computer poetry (Virtual Muse, Wesleyan 1996). His Free Verse (Princeton 1981) is still in print (Northwestern 1996), and Verse: An Introduction to Prosody was published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2015. In 2020 he co-edited, with Martha Collins, Pamela Alexander, and Matthew Krajniak, a volume on Wendy Battin for the Unsung Master series. He is Poet in Residence Emeritus at Connecticut College. He plays jazz guitar.