Issue > Poetry
Richie Hofmann

Richie Hofmann

Richie Hofmann is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize, and his poems appear in The New YorkerPoetryPloughshares, and many other magazines. His debut poetry collection is Second Empire (Alice James Books, 2015), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award. He is currently a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University.
 

Holy Week


Unmarried men follow the stations of penance,
grunting like lovers under the weight
of wooden crosses, bearing
them from their home churches to the cathedral.
Others step in unison, carrying a crate of men
with hairy abdomens. The street we stand on is littered
with trash and fallen oranges.
This morning we wake to another Easter.
An old stone step crumbles under my sneaker.
In a baby shoe store window, fake blood on the face
of Jesus. It is possible
our bodies think they are reproducing
or maybe we are bound by nothing but our pleasure,
and the shame and durability of love.

Field in Ohio


Not yet dusk and already
a smell like fermented honey as flies
slowly light up in the unmowed grass. It looks
like we're in a midwestern field, but it's really a midwestern field
for eco-friendly burials. I think I would be happy with life and death here: no one
calls me; there is one bar to drink at, where my usual
is a champagne split for one. Other people have babies. Teens grow
into their kissing skins, while mothers and fathers refuse
to clean the rooms where they sleep,
fornicate, and read. I follow you
into the field. We've been waiting all day
for the lightning to come down.
I wish we were in love
so we might experience it as lovers.

Fire, Earth, Water, Air


There was a fire ready for cooking.
The pure white of all the stucco elided
any history of blood you might have read about.
We stood there, young and favored,
amidst the cliffs and cold water.
I know it would be easier for you if my unrelenting predations
demanded body after body
and not soul after soul. A boy swung
a squid's head against a rock, both rational and mad.
The sea bent its waves. A hawk
glided low. With military precision,
it murdered a gull over the sea.
Its feathers nearly touched our faces,
falling as in a parade or church or theater.

Kierkegaard's Grave


We ride through the cemetery on rented bikes.
A sign indicates the right way
to where Kierkegaard is buried. Husbands & wives share
plots, stones, dear lost children, last names.
The morning is wasp-soft,
light incipient beyond the walls.
We look, but we can't find his grave, so we drop our bikes and lie
in the cut grass, spreading out our sweatshirts
as blankets. We are working through our philosophies.
We share a sugary pastry with poppy seeds as all the bees
try to kiss our lips. The dead won't see us.
I wish I could be high-minded,
could banish this jealousy,
and live with multiple lovers.

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