Three poems by SUSAN HAZEN-HAMMOND
<<curated by Susan
McAllister of Harwood Art Center and Harwood Review >>
This poetry was selected
in response to the art exhibit, Land Arts of the American West..
TIME STRETCHES IN THE TWILIGHT
JUICE OFF RATIONING
Where her next
step would fall,
a three-cornered head
trailed by thin newborn body
wiggles into dry grass.
She leans forward to look,
but the rattlesnake is gone.
a cottontail quivers.
Is he ill with plague?
Why doesn't he run?
are losing needles,
color, liquid, bark
to their beetle assassins.
Only the young, pliant and green,
The yellow primroses
have wilted and turned bright orange.
The purples of sunset bloom,
as she moves slowly,
holding her son's arm,
on this, her first walk
after her first cancer treatment.
AS TIME STRETCHES IN THE TWILIGHT
Cactus and creosote
rise from the desert crust
like pimples and fuzz on the chin of a 12-year-old.
Cattle chew on the decay of dead century plants,
while gargoyles and moles sprout from rock faces.
Here, one landscape
soil replaces soil, and the side of a hill
could be the inner curl of a surfer's wave.
that seem formed from dying
dinosaurs-their backs ridges that rise
in the ocean of the desert-a cloud turns
a somersault before the air sucks it dry.
in the shape of a lopsided
breast, a pregnant woman's belly button, a
drunken letter M, knocked rain from the clouds.
in pools that shine
with the last light in the sky, birds
that fly from desert to desert
play like sandpipers on the beach.
air will gulp their sea
the way the sun swallows night.
Maybe it is not
that we forget
as we age, but that we gain
something new and let the old go.
TOMATO JUICE OFF RATIONING
says one headline
on the front page of the
old newspaper, recreated in weatherproof
metal and secured to a chain link fence.
Nearby: a pile
of deer droppings, the trails
of lizards, flashes of green crystals too
heavy for the wind that lifts the desert
into eyes, nose,
teeth, pores. Hidden in
the creosote bushes, a mourning dove calls.
A raven lands on the fence. A boy tugs a
man's hand, says,
"Dad, is this all we're
going to do?" while his dad reads how the
crystals formed, one July dawn, breaking
windows 120 miles
away. Today, over mountains
that zigzag down from the sky, the clouds
stretch long and tight like rubber bands.
A teenager races
next to the fence. "I'm
trying to make this happen in real time," he
calls, passing plaques labeled .006 seconds,
.053 seconds, and photos that
show this very desert floor grow into a bubble,
a dome, a ball, a crown, a pillar of flame, the
mushroom cloud: a secret test.
Beneath "Atomic Bomb Drops on Japan," another
headline says, "May Be Tool to End Wars." The
wind paints the
black clothes I am wearing to
protest a new war with dust less deadly than
the twinkling glass. The raven drops to the
a green shard, flies to its
young. I will wash my hair, shake this dust
from my feet, drink tomato juice for breakfast,
set off airport
alarms for days or years, look
as if I do not know about after and before.
Susan Hazen-Hammond's Bio
is a poet, photographer, and painter, and the author of nine
books, including Spider Woman's Web and Thunder
Bear and Ko (both published by Penguin-Putnam). She writes
poetry in Spanish for La Herencia del Norte. In English
her poetry appears in a cross-section of journals (including
Confrontation, Porcupine, Kalliope, Mirror Northwest, RiverSedge,
Slant, and Westview), and in anthologies including
Audible Fire, Spectral Line, and the forthcoming
Crude: Poems at the End of the Age of Oil. Awards include
a Benjamin Franklin Award, a South Carolina Book Award, a Woman
of Genius Award, and, in Mexico, El Primer Premio Nacional