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Tom Hibbard

VII. Big Snow

“the land that never has been yet”
                     – Langston Hughes

what a kick-ass winter
sanitary charcoal
concerned about federal man
the faint bristle-brush outline of trees
for which you are responsible
deep down inside
steamy soup-kitchen mush
penetrating frigid side streets
one against five
twenty against ten
in the sunlit energy-saving morning
powdery and light
donating everlasting drifts
inextricably linked with public schools
right up to your door
where it starts
a couple miles down the road
county trunk double-b
at the scarce corporate gate
taking on the job of logistics
plowed so high the church fathers
thought winter was a sin
because it put forth the theory
that utilitarian value could become a "yes"
choosing resolute labor
despite the offer of an s.u.v.
lake floes freezing together along shore
snow on abandon trestles
snow on park benches
snow on the side of tree limbs
curling off the corner of roofs
spruce attempt to impose success
fences call for life-and-death power
trudging in rubber boots
through approval beyond bribes
did i overlook you
it snowed all night
a mysterious palatable world
reduced to simple acts
bringing people closer
with persuasion for exclamation
under a shut-down barrage of skies
(twenty-two inches of fresh fallen snow)
turning humiliating sell-outs
into a boost for numbing lay-offs
blocking out packed signs
hugging the nuclear family
trying with all its might
to love the homeless waushara outage
a desirous do-or-die pull
unburdened from spiteful reference
they said we spent all your money
with only a flashlight
the night watchman rejoicing
walking beside the road
a girl with no coat
bright red drops of blood
fallen in the snow bank
a girl standing in food lines
a girl named sweet nelly bly
from dearborn michigan
from greasy poultry kilowattville
a motorist stranded on impassable roads
the same as a wood-chopping quick-fix
happy days are here again
where snow moon mansions
pay taxes with expectant ice-sculptings
sheriff deputies passing
fire trucks showing up
the implementation of mail drivers
last year’s happiness
the brave soldiers
enlisted in the dark
litter of addicted tail-lights
scattered on wet pavement
a wrecker tows off larcenous frame-ups
where rescue workers saved someone’s life

anno sanctitus
salt on parked cars
the arduous progressive chunks of slush
"bush blew the whistle
"cheney rang the bell
"johnny went to heaven
"and the country went to hell"
banana joe clark reincarnated
all by himself
spinning his wheels
stuck sideways in the ditch
up to the wheel wells in snow
can’t budge his car
beginning to fog up the windows
a sticker on his antenna
the highway become a sleigh path
visibility zero in the blizzard
blowing for miles across the road
why won’t you tell him
the economic causes for war
why ain’t he had no peace
the strikers laid down their arms
for duplicity and error
going like sheep to the slaughter
motel six become an hostelry
hackneyed threats and laws
hung us up on ice
they told us you’ll be billionaires
they told us you’ll march right in
to the royal banquet hall
you don’t have to work
go ahead and be dishonest
we’ve declared today a holiday
pay no attention to that flickering
exalting your rusty iron chains
they murdered livestock
leaving behind roan thorns
to put on the table
from the assembly line
hands stuck in the candy jar
show they’ve reached their limit of trust
kidney beans a la carte
how long before the world
is freed from its bizarre envy
one dinar for water
one kopek for air
the unaffected superintendent
the town board
let superfluousness get by
at the entrance to the next day’s
fresh diamond sparkle
the scruffy frozen wetlands
with no mittens summon everyone
to hear the widow’s grievance
the vigil of improbability
in the normative stable of minimums
that it’s difficult to argue against
spontaneity for sale
the back-biting afternoon edition
gaping on fast-growing basis
your worst enemy’s wreaths
providing universal health coverage
playing tiddle-di-winks
with a thousand radical ward leaders
that isn’t the way you think
filling the caved-in fieldstone chimney
with fatal glances ascending
if you’re dividing by zero
already civilization is nature
winners in our losing
united in our divergence
leading in social systems
this is a land that despises relentlessness
this is a land faithfully housebound
listening to an advisory chorus
in a pasture of charity
like ten-zillion tiny white lights
strung in a strand
from wondrous boughs
cardboard to cardboard
like a fast train
that never did stop here
chilling thrown swirls
astonishing and sickening

bundled diesel wind gusts
twist the dead fingers of trees
rattling terrified screens
rattling carriage house chimes
billowing above upside-down tables
forming shapes forever obscure
cars are buried in the snow
all flights canceled
rush hour traffic crawls along
staggering through the slippery void
the fastened socialist twilight
bitterly reproaching itself
this is the first winter
though it might seem odd
i don’t want anything but you
make up your minds
down with sure temperate platitudes
the epithets they hurled
have at last reached the frost-bitten ears
calling for persistence
why would anyone want
to live where the old is new
and the new is old
strange but true
red flannel never shoved us away
contemplating our unintelligible worth
power sleeps peacefully
beneath a blanket of new fallen snow
ever closer to uniting
thought and action
comfort and virtue
an endless supply of blank space
is where many essential objects belong
nothing need be missing
walking indirectly
dressed in poor rags
the snow has started falling
in wet humanist flakes
swerving blinding
look up above
deep into the clouds
it’s not a trick
you can see it clearly
the end of selfish greed
the walls of bias tumbling
it’s like a dream of old
before we were born
the dream of our parents
begun in a barnyard
as it appeared to shepherds
it happened in a moment
on the very place we stand
a woman with her child
whose name is all mankind
who’s that man walking
with matted hair
it’s me and you my brother
whom i didn’t know
don’t give up
only a little further
all is coming true

hey buddy can you spare me some time
no matter how dire the direction
a car stuck in an intersection
a guy, a girl and i push it out
push out the guy and girl’s car
walk over to starbucks
buy a slice of gingerbread
in a big cozy chair
blow on hands to keep them warm
drink a latte grande
small coffee with milk
two-dollars and ninety-eight-cents
cutting the stale harsh taste
beside a artificial fireplace
with its gas flame
that produces more insights
for building autonomous creations
out of water and friction
the heroic little nothings
that survive meaningless status
the golden bell tree
the skating lady
becoming less obstacles
disentangled from extraneous
hidden tainted misleading ethics
showing up on schedule
outside the window
shrubs bent down by the snow
shoveled high on brick planters
not an end but a beginning
not an undependable a priori beauty
always safeguarded against lapse
but a substantive commitment
to a dim brandy porch light
people returning to their apartment
male and female in the ranks
scaffolding across the street
a huge structure going up
that no one knows what it is
made of numbers
crammed into a confining uniformity
is it too much
it’s really snowing hard
knocked over mailboxes
unemployment rising
states going into debt
leftover pork roast a platform
for getting back to basics

a fastidious harbor lighthouse
looks like a picturesque artwork
snow tufting every branch of the forest
describes a structure not precisely predetermined
but last-minute and pretty
sugar plum frosting on evergreens
completely reinvented every time
far apart we’re closer
weakness and strength
foregrounding the factual lace-work
real food and drink
like the supersized plows
scraping the pavement
sparks flying in the murky tumult
the flashing caution lights
getting the job done
that takes nothing for granted
every street in the village is plowed
the snow makes ordinary life
a brisk nature hike
that leads to a dead end
i don’t have to know everything
only a government
of singularity by singularity for singularity
urban sprawl isn’t progress
reversing problem and solution
industrialization and retail
taboo apologia for life
disparaging imperative contraceptives
individuals without a plan
in an instinctual effort to live apart
in this way i claim for myself
a happy place dubbed eternity
wearing nine layers of clothes
long-johns & five pairs of socks
plain and simple ominous
darkness over the vast deep
beckoning everyone
sensing the tendentious intent
a planet-heating dynamo
a river birch scroll
with the power of my hands
that inherently support fragile respect
apparently working without reward
this is our participating
that makes undistinguished surfaces
into an undulating unbroken whole
an actual paradise
with the wind chill factor
about fahrenheit twenty-seven below
if you try to look good
they end up making you look bad
turn on the computer
there’s golf in sunny desert palms
it’s reasonable
chalky white blue-purple grey
i love getting up on ice-cold mornings
i love frozen water pipes
i love shoveling the driveway
this is where i was born
i’ve never been anywhere else
this is where i died two years ago
lost in the snow

Tom Hibbard

Tom Hibbard

Tom Hibbard has had poems, translations, reviews and essays published in many places on and off line, including Word/For Word, Big Bridge, Crayon, Fishdrum, Jacket, Cricket, Milk, Otoliths, Moria. A long piece on “Linear/Nonlinear” can be found in the Big Bridge archive. Bronze Skull press published a chapbook of Hibbard’s poetry in 2008, Critique of North American Space. A poetry collection, Place of Uncertainty, is available at Otoliths Storefront. Two poems are scheduled for the upcoming green issue of Jack. And a journalistic piece that includes criticism on Marton Koppany’s visual writing is scheduled for Eileen Tabios’ journal Galatea Resurrects. You can read Tom Hibbard’s article “When Poetry Becomes Visual: Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other” in this issue of Jacket.

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