Letter of Allowance

What do you mean bathtub?
Wasn’t there always Niagra,

a hair drifting in a canyon,
the slab-lights sheer upon

one another in tectonic air,
great gullies of breath

through highfalutin mountains
and dreadlocks of stone?

This letter makes one fewer
on her head, like a needle-exchange

between conifers, a single floret
in the round caption of

a cruciferous vegetable.
I, botanical. I, table.

I, paper-square for mouth.



A Holiday

My hand glances brief
                                                   denominations of flesh
in a crowded room
                                                   weaving toward exit
where speakers wrap us
                                                    a dance receding
from back to chest
                                                    slowly on its tilt
honey spread by amplitude
                                                    my throat a muzzy stem
of red I rub
                                                    the stranger’s palm
against the snow-light
                                                    I can see myself turning
my back on the window
                                                    the after-glance
like foam between waves
                                                    to leave the season
its liabilities
                                                    on the one hand a balcony
strung by lights
                                                    and on the other
a door repeats itself
                                                    into a river dimly
a ripple of geese
                                                    traversing a thermal
to make the letter
                                                    they approximate
the fingers flocking 
                                                    my heart
they curl in welcome



In Due Time

I felt my teeth take root. Thank you
hardened on a sorry look.
They used plaster,
and a face-shaped cup
into which—sullen—a few ripples
responded. I shimmered there
in filth, a pair of gray hands on my hips,
pursed lips; my see-saw seeing saw
I meant business
and played nonchalant,
like a squatter said: “Oh, you live here?”
And so the mask fit sloppily.

I’m a shade I was thinking then said, “I’m a shade,”
ruining the mouth and tasting the plaster.

That’s okay though, according to the wetnesses
that predispose a cheek to slime
or a rock to moss.



Price Check

The fabric mountain looms on
a field of button mushrooms.
There is a new notion of burning,
a new notion of mole check, too.
To approach the warden makes you
a child, and gold scrolls end
in a fringe all down the exit hall.
Our friend Moss. Look at him here,
and timid, a steam merchant
playing it cool, while in my pocket,
a dollar gets converted into cinders.
I reach for the broom, and gratefully,
for without piecemeal, the lost
teeth are graves surrounding
a fiefdom of the dentures.
When I wrote this, I had to nurse
a sear in my pettiest finger,
with ice, intermittently, and so
the periods come essentially at
the points of exclamation.






[Alec Hershman lives in St. Louis where he teaches at Stevens—the Institute of Business and Art. He has received awards from the Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, The St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, and The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. His work appears in various literary magazines and online at alechershmanpoetry.com.]

Copyright © 2014 by Alec Hershmann, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.