Richard Hoffman

February 19, 2020 Hoffman Richard


I would like beamed to me from the Muse’s tower high atop Parnassus
through one of those earpieces
with the squiggly wire you hide behind your head when in front of the camera
a few clear words to choose from

for what I have seen, for what is right in front of me and for what perhaps
is coming soon after that because
though others living through other times were able to imagine a future,
I, for one, cannot, so just a glimpse

of the day after tomorrow please, just a sense of consequence to rely on
is all I ask: is this thing on?
I’m not really looking for some kind of ooga-booga dictation from the divine;
I am not so pretentious as that but

what poet in his right mind would not be envious of that stained glass evangel
who stares up at the angel
held there in the air by wings and holding an unfurled scroll of cryptic text
that, translated, tells what’s next

simply by pointing out what happens over and over again unceasingly but
hidden by the surrounding minutae
that make up our creaturely, phlegmatic, obligated and dutiful daily lives
we ought to count as mercy

for their blurring and obscuring most of the time precisely that prophetic
clarity the angel is offering,
flying in place like a hummingbird but ready to dart away any moment
so fast you wonder if you saw it.

I need a few suggestions just to get me started how to talk about the way
not a blessed thing I believed,
not a single axiom holds anymore, like the guy on the Weather Channel
out in the middle of the storm,

waves crashing on the seawall, wind roaring and popping in his microphone,
with one hand cupping his ear,
the words drowned out by thunder and the roar of the sea behind him,
camera lens streaked as if by tears.

Richard Hoffman has published five books of poetry, Without Paradise; Gold Star Road, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the Sheila Motton Award from The New England Poetry Club; EmblemNoon until Night, winner of the 2018 Massachusetts Book Award, and his most recent, People Once Real. His other books include Half the House: a Memoir; the 2014 memoir Love & Fury; the story collection Interference and Other Stories, and the essay collection Remembering the Alchemists. He is Emeritus Writer in Residence at Emerson College.