Richard Hague's latest poetry book is Public Hearings, poems social, satirical, and political. In some of his previous books he has written about physics and cosmology (The Time It Takes Light), urban gardening (Garden) the town/country split of his Appalachian upbringing (Ripening, Mill and Smoke Marrow), Appalachian landscape and culture (Possible Debris), creativity (Burst: Poems Quickly and Lives of the Poem: Community & Connection in a Writing Life), the presence of the past on the Ohio River (A Week of Nights Down River), and growing up in two places: Steubenville, Ohio and rural Monroe County, Ohio (Milltown Natural: Essays and Stories from a Life). His latest poetry manuscript is During The Recent Extinctions, which deals with the effects of human culture on the earth's flora and fauna, as well as on the spirit of humans themselves. He teaches young people and adults at Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati and in The Institute for Professional Development and Graduate School of Education at Northeastern University in Boston.
Child’s nights I smelled them
like musks aground—
scarabs glinting, bombardiers gassing
the low precincts.
I could never get so small.
I had to dream or otherwise
down to them.
Troubling problems: scale
and heft, the humid sloshing
tun of flesh I daily
died to shed.
How finer now to be
dry, fluent in the
pouncing and devouring,
at my every corner.
How rich to be jeweled,
How something of hillside’s pregnant heat,
yarrow’s fire, green flames split to ferns,
land’s mute and weedy explosions
can gorge this stob of flesh
and swell so strongly under grip
and spit air in hisses
and be animate as fire
though black as fired wood
Let Menelaus spiel
with the Old Man of the Sea:
I will sit down by this road
to watch the smallest stump transform
to turtle, mouse, or bird,
and smell on snake-scented hands
blood, saltwater, woman’s musk,
the fume of ripeness
risen from the gravid wealth
of land’s most secret folds.
Goodbye Night, your long silent times
with me, your cigarette smoke and beer,
your jukebox hangovers, your hands
touching me from somewhere
I cannot find my way back to—
that absolute Platonic bistro, those girls
electric and supple as Muses, that dim
secret glittering Ultima Taverna—
goodbye, buenos noches, Night.
And so long, Dark, you long-haired
sister of Night. Did you ever tell her
we were seeing one another?
Dark, we had some times,
fishing by the river in midnight fog,
kissing by the fire, talking
to the winos who wandered around in you,
bumming quarters and
looking for the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
I miss you Dark, so long, hasta luego.