Poetry: Selections from Shira Hoffman
If I make the bed, then spend all day lying on the floor
will you know that I am faking? Will you tell them
my cat has the flu? Will you give me away?
Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
Did she teach you how to get the sheets so clean?
The hooks and eyes that fasten on my smile
are something to unlearn. I don’t want to come in everyday
and see your face either.
Maybe I’ll circle your name in the obituaries.
Maybe I’ll put it in my scrapbook with the rest.
No one wants to work this hard.
If you were to find me stumbling streetward
would you return me to me?
I’ll give you my number if you promise
only to call when it rains milkgrass
on the filthy city. Will you come
when I call? Head off into the middle
of a sandstorm? Return the thoughts
you’ve stolen to my mind?
I doubted you, but now I see the blood
on your hands is not the guilty kind.
You have been scrubbing the floorboards.
Do you notice when your fingers start to bleed,
or do you wait until the wood is stained?
Space for Rent
I know you aren’t interested
in listening to
people. But you must
help me. I’ve had my mind
shut off. I stopped paying
the bills and they switched off
the power. I phoned to inquire
and heard them say “Maybe you’ve got to
stop feeding it, you’re getting lazy
and fat.” I gnawed on the receiver
running my tongue over the holes.
“I’m pretty sure I used to need that,”
Two tones answered me
the hum reverberating in each ear.
Do Not Enter
You took up residence
in my house. True,
in a room I was not using,
cobwebs growing thick
over the atrium. I don’t know
how you forced the bolt.
Others have tried,
their failure, bone piles
by the locked door. I evicted
you, but your stubbornness
is infinite. You claim you aren’t here,
so how can you leave?
You were a wharf and I was standing on you.
Built in the sea, you were
strong enough to cling to.
The sun bleached out the eyes
you didn’t have yet. You were still
made of boards. Without a thought
of holding me up, of being walked on,
or from. If you think
my intention is to harm you,
then I think you’ve finally
had a thought, and well
I guess that’s progress.
If I take you apart board by board
can I rebuild you into a wooden man?
Shira Hoffman (she/her) is a poet living with multiple invisible disabilities. Her work has appeared in a Writers Lair Books anthology. In addition, she has also received an MFA from the New School and worked in publishing until she relocated to Sommerville, MA where the people are still weird, but the air is much cleaner.