by Shannon Hamann
6x9, perfect bound
Printed in a limited edition of 1031 copies
88 pages (white, library archival standard)
Published in December of 2011
The Friendly Skies
God says, "I enjoy flying
in the face of fairness."
Even the poorest neighborhood looks like a jewel from an airplane at night.
American Airlines flight 191, Chicago to Los Angeles,
a gift from Mr. Schade to his beautiful wife
and two little girls.
How aliens must see us:
The earthlings go into a building and get dirty pieces of paper. These buildings, there's one on top of another. They've had to build piggy-back because their planet is so small, and they're so slow. They go into another building. Big square holes in all these buildings. Here they put hot stuff into an orifice. Cold liquids too. Same orifice. Once more those dirty pieces of paper. They give them to the bringer of hot stuff and cold liquids. What does it all mean?
This is how I see poetry.
I imagine flight 191
from which a tiny car is a zipper
zipping together two patchwork quilts-
a boring magazine, hunger,
one of the engines falls off.
Passengers grab each other, scream,
a woman in row seven says, "I love you"
to her husband who responds,
"I've never loved you..."
"...so much" is lost in the explosion
which incinerates 200 passengers,
200 and change, Chicagoan upon Chicagoan.
Aground, a skeleton hand clutches a former cocktail.
A complimentary peppermint melts in a burning mouth.
Blessed be the peony, vomited from its sepals,
Adjacent to the callow, craning bud, a green globe
On which the ants toil It will soon see
the sea of fluffy velveteen that composes its family,
That the sun favors so shamelessly,
That butterflies change directions in mid-butterflight to see
And light upon. If indeed the peonies were any brighter, blind
People would see them. They
Would gather and gaze, and the neighbors would say,
"Those are the blind, and it's the peonies they have congregated to behold."
Despite the efforts of the industrious anemones,
Roses, perfidious forsythia, and crocuses,
No thing outblooms, outshines the peonies
That line the driveway.
The peony is a home:
Once, an ant walked across its middle,
Hesitated in the middle's midst,
And thought, "Here I am, and there is where I must go"
Before walking to the other side.
A small grasshopper escaped a sparrow and hopped in the peony
And hid and waited in the shade of the petals
That conceal the stigma, the style (and the pedicel);
And the sun went down behind the garage
And cast a pink cast on the siding
That complemented the peonies which are pink and yellow and fat-
A child is being beaten in the house the peonies are at.
Shannon Hamann (1966-2004) received an MFA from the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop. His poetry appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Colorado Review, The New York Quarterly, Zyzzyva and many others. A chapbook of his early poems was bilingually published in Italy under the title, L'immaginazione violenta, in a limited edition. Recognition of his work included a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Steinbeck Fellows Grant, and shortly before his death a travel grant to Japan from the NEA. Deathdoubledactyl is his first full-length collection of poems.