dear proofreader :: david hernandez

You’re right. I meant “midst,” not “mist.”
I don’t know what I was stinking,
I mean thinking, soap speaks intimately
to my skin every day. Most days.
Depending if darkness has risen
to my skull like smoke up a chimney floe.
Flue. Then no stepping nude
into the shower, no mist turning
the bathroom mirror into frosted glass
where my face would float
coldly in the oval. Picture a caveman
encased in ice. Good. I like how
your mind works, how your eyes
inside your mind works, and your actual eyes
reading this, their icy precision, nothing
slips by them. Even now I can feel you
hovering silently above these lines,
hawkish, Godlike, each period
a lone figure kneeling in the snow.
That’s too sad. I would like to send
search parties and rescue choppers
to every period ever printed.
I would like to apologize to my wife
for not showering on Monday and Tuesday.
I was stinking. I was simultaneously
numb and needled with anxiety,
in the midst of a depressive episode.
Although “mist” would work too,
metaphorically speaking, in the mist of,
in the fog of, this gray haze that followed me
relentlessly from room to room
until every red bell inside my head
was wrong. Rung.

retirement home melee at the salad bar :: david hernandez

They say it began with an elderly man
foraging through the icebergs and romaines.

They say another who prefers his salad
without a stranger’s fingerprints

and Stop. From there, they say, curses
hissed through dentures. From there, fists.

They say it was a fracas, knocked bifocals
and clattering canes, the wooden screech

of chair legs, some to break up the scuffle
and some to shuffle off on a bad knee,

or pinned hip, or pace-makered heart.
One is bitten, they say. Another wears

a cut across his forehead, blood flowing
down the canals of his wrinkles.

Next day’s the same old same old,
as they say. Back to the quiet swing

of living without velocity or fire.
Shuffleboard and Pinochle, the dull

click of knitting needles, their final
gray years going limp. Or so they say.

lisa :: david hernandez

Last night I traced with my finger
the long scar on my love’s stomach
as if I was following a road on a map.
I heard the scream of tires, saw the flash

of chrome, her six-year-old body
a rag doll bleeding at the seams.
It is foolish of me to wish
I was there before it happened, to reach

back thirty years, clasp her small hand
and pull her away from that speeding car
that turned her organs into bruised fruit.
How easily she could have missed

her seventh birthday, the lit candles waiting
for her to blow out their tiny flames.
How easily I could’ve spent last night
in a crowded bar instead,

my shoulders brushing against strangers,
a man on the jukebox
singing his heart out to a woman
with the prettiest eyes he’s ever seen.