After-music: Poems by Conrad Hilberry

By Conrad Hilberry

After-Music is a various and wealthy selection of meditations on either the non-public and common. among the fascinating locations, humans, and occasions that Hilberry brings to lifestyles in those poems are observing manatees in a Florida canal, a reluctant priest blessing the animals in Mexico, a rushed and sullen checkout woman within the grocery store, and Day of the lifeless skeletons that shape a mariachi band. even though many of the poems are formal in sonnets, quatrains, and tetrameter many of the poems are loose verse, making them available and relaxing examining.

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If I could find my heart I’d pierce it, run it through. 37 38 Clue Toffee with tooth marks, the petal of hibiscus that never blooms this far north, a scrap of toenail, those are my cousins. I’m the left-handed slash here on your kitchen door, the stroke that missed, before you sank the knife and caught your breath there at the sink, your blouse splattered with good riddance. Believe me, I’m not blowing any whistles. We’ve been acquainted only since last Friday, but I can feel some new air edging in around your bed, your kitchen table.

The bone-lipped trumpet shapes the old tune now, then voices hollow out the words—allá donde vivía. These skeletons are young men, recklessly off key. Up north our bones are dour, pinned up for anatomy or bagged in plastic for the coroner. No sugar skulls or fiddles show us how to rattle out the after-music. Some of our dead still speak but solo and sorry and seldom from the pelvis. No high-pitched cry. No rancherita. No bony digits quick on the strings. No wired jaws still longing after the tongue is gone.

Negative space Where the body isn’t—that’s how dancers know me. Sculptors bend their clay and steel against my emptiness. Somehow, though I’m not giving it a thought, I nudge a shadow from a twist of bronze or change the way a breast and elbow size each other up. Writers like to wrap white space around their wit, but I’m not white, not bound or folded. I’m your zero with its circumference erased, an abandoned building once the building’s gone. Let’s say 53 54 a heavy childhood event has bent your life, shaped what you’ve become.

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