White Center: Poems
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"That Richard Hugo's poetry creates in his readers an almost indistinguishable desire for more," writes the critic and poet Dave Smith, "is the mark of his ability to reach those deep pools in us where we wait for passionate engagement. What Hugo gives us is the chance to begin again and a world where that beginning is ever possible." Here, for his ever-growing body of readers, are more of those opportunities.
fresh diesel fumes. Across the street only three of the old homes remain, one where a sad man lived, a man who drank himself to the grave and drank his way into my poems at least twice. He was the first sad man I remember. I preferred sadness to anger and I preferred him for too long a time. My last gesture will be at the door, facing east. It will be a look at the hill two blocks away, that delayed dawn every morning and stood between me and a nation. I live east of that hill.
sure your car when fixed will not break down between the home in the sketch and the home you deny, the boy with your mouth who shouts goodbye from the roof. Sail easy on the freeway. Your next home has never been photoed. Your next home town’s where so little goes on, the hum of your refrigerator joins the slow river leaving for home. Isn’t it familiar? Rain hitting the south window first? Dark corner where the warm light can cringe? If you go with rivers, not roads, the trip takes
right I’ve seen grim times. But these days my poems appear everywhere. Fan mail comes. I fly east on a profitable reading tour. Once in a while a young girl offers herself. My wife knows that, too. And she knows my happiness with her is far more than I ever expected. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have given a dime for my chances at life. What she doesn’t know is now and then a vagabond knocks on the door. I go answer and he says, “Come back, baby. You’ll find a million poems deep in your
of the ocean floor. Waves wiped out all traces of our birth. No sign of a home, no proof we ever lived are two insistent grays. What if the horizon’s laughter arrives over and over, and this thin afternoon it seems we’re little on this beach? What other creature claims his arms are wings and buzzes the crabs taking cover? That’s one game the dolphin wouldn’t dare play. We fall to the sand tough with laughter. The surf howls dry disapproval and reads the Bible alone. Other games matter.
back against the stars, and even dead he begged us to take him west to the shore of the sea. Getty Today, I remembered Getty, the old man at Price’s lake who rented boats and coughed and told me he was gone. Moss caked his lungs and a sky I’d forgotten drifted in his eyes. The brooks I caught were dazzling and wild. I shouted ‘Lord love Getty’ at the trees. Nothing came back. The young sheen of willows hung over cedars dark and grumpy with age. I came back early next spring but Getty