If it hadn’t rained, we would’ve gone to the beach (Phuc Tran)
If we were in infinity, we would be everywhere,
even inside ourselves, as taste resides in the walnut,
and the walnut resides in the shell.
Then we would thrive inside the subjunctive,
where nothing happens but dreams of being,
as paradise dreams of its inferno,
the inferno of cotton candy.
If only the world had ripened, like a pear,
it might have melted the mirror in me,
delivering its softness to the hard road of the mind,
sixty miles from town.
And if our grammar were even our heat,
comma, conditional phrase, comma,
we’d be addicted to the sentence,
sentenced to an exile that sees, hears, and thinks,
and is often mistaken for love.
Trees are chronologies;
every leaf shines, and in turning over it winks an eye:
if, if, and then. The world is possible meaning;
the world is possible, meaning:
I might have been an elf, had I been elfin.
But I am not an elf. I am a giant with tiny hands:
would, could, and should.
Had I been winged, I might have flown
from industrial field to pastoral alley
on great woolen wings, with the blue face of a bee.
Then it would have been said, “He is repairing to his persona”
or “He is retiring to his future.”
I’ll copy this by way of the stars, reflective.
Get back to me by facsimile or dream of climbing a night ladder
to the place of ideal size, near a town of simple affection.
But the size of midnight is always the same,
enormous yet conceivable.
If we had been born, lived our lives, and died,
we might have existed. On the side of darkness, infinity;
on the other, a sixty watt bulb.
What the mirror roars is you.
Paul Hoover is the author of fifteen poetry books including Desolation: Souvenir (2012), Sonnet 56 (2009), Edge and Fold (2006), Poems in Spanish (2005), and two full-length volumes translated into Spanish by María Baranda: En el idioma y en la tierra (Conaculta, Mexico City, 2012) and La intención y su materia (Monte Avila, Caracas, 2012). He has also published Fables of Representation (2004), a collection of literary essays. With Maxine Chernoff, he edited and translated Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin, which won the PEN-USA Translation Award. He has received the Frederick Bock Award of Poetry and the Jerome J. Shestack Award of American Poetry Review. Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, he is editor of the anthology, Postmodern American Poetry (W. W. Norton, 1994/2013) and co-editor, with Maxine Chernoff, of the literary magazine, New American Writing.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan