Andrew Hemmert

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Andrew Hemmert

Like Stars, Like Small-Town Churches

When we drove up to Denver
to attend the inspection of a house

that would, ultimately, not work for us,
red-tailed hawks were everywhere—

staking out the light posts,
scouring the bit of prairie

between the Inn-And-Out Burger
and the community college.

They were probably after mice or rats
or whatever could be carried off

to feed their new-hatched chicks.
Or was it too far

into Fall for any new hawks
to adorn those high nests,

the likes of which sometimes miraculously
hang on long after

the fledglings have left?
The house was a nest of problems.

Garage too small
to accommodate a car and still

allow a person to enter it,
no radon mitigation, no overflow

valves in the bathrooms,
hallways too narrow for Karen’s wheelchair.

And so as we went through
the litany of issues we were falling

out of love with it in real time,
the life we’d imagined living there

just blowing away, like how the dust
rose in wind from the in-progress interstate

we took there and back.
Most times I’ve made plans, reality

has carried them off,
though I am cursed

to be a planner, one who,
even if he knows the world

is a swirling current of indefinite seasons,
needs to impart some semblance

of control. Interstate, we do go on,
pitted by salt and overcommitted

to every direction under the sun.
The hawks were on the light posts

like traffic cameras, or like stars
above the cheap nativity scenes

of small-town churches
we passed on our way home.

Andrew Hemmert reads “Like Stars, Like Small-Town Churches”


Andrew Hemmert is the author of Blessing the Exoskeleton (Pitt Poetry Series) and Sawgrass Sky (Texas Review Press). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various magazines including The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, The Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review. He won the 2018 River Styx International Poetry Contest. He earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and currently lives in Thornton, Colorado.