Jay Hopler

knell & i object i object i object
February 19, 2021 Hopler Jay



the chit-a’click-chit of a squirrel
giving one of the neighborhood’s
cats the business crackles


the afternoon to a fine static
i can’t quite get the beat
the aspen branches are tapping


against the picture window
ditto the wind in the hedge-
rows ditto the sparrows


by it are my own thoughts muffled
how else explain in a poem
of cat & squirrel


a line like the moon of ash
is made & loves you like a muzzle
 flash a twitch of tail a flash


of yellow teeth the cat outmatched
slinks back beneath
the birdbath


where it sleeps the squirrel
dashes down the back
fence to the safety of the maple


tree & me i’m back in the old
cacophonies dumb-
founded tongue-in-a-loll


the last un-tolled bell
in the whole rung universe



i object i object i object


those aren’t stars those are shards
of my grandmother’s bone
china i recognize the family pattern: shrapnel
the night sky to a jagged sparkle blown
the powerlines their wind-strummed chords
a’jangle i was born in the middle
of a 2-lane road empty for 1,000 years
in both directions: down & down
& yet have not upon me shown stars
legit have not whole constellations been configured
to my benefit Your Honor i admit
my life has been as easy as it gets & i have the scars
to prove it of all the things i could have done
why didn’t i just sit

Jay Hopler’s most recent book of poetry, The Abridged History of Rainfall, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award in Poetry. He teaches in the writing program at the University of South Florida.