Poetry: Selections from Erich von Hungen

24 Hours 

It is like an engine

full of potential and horsepower,

the pedal pumping, roaring, ready to go.

This polished, shining morning --

it is like that.


I open the door,

French cigarette packet blue,

get in, turn on the wipers,

lift up my visor.

Heat should it be or AC?


I slam it closed

harder than I mean,

screech the minutes,

stretching them out in a stain

on the concrete -- smoking,


break a record for smiling,

aim at the red place the day is proudly showing,

and open a beer with one hand and my thumb.

The sky foams, goes gold.


I am intoxicated,

in love with this big engine --

its willingness, its power.


It will throw me off a cliff above the Pacific,

miles up, maybe. But before that,

it will burn blood at high octane 

and take me anywhere I want to go.

Anywhere -- first, before.


And that is worth another beer, 

another ridge in my nail

and the pedal hard to the floor.

Damn, isn't life wonderful -- 

this big, full 24?


1. The bullet of telling

was shot directly through anticipation,

but the small hole it left

closed like the sphincter of a dog with a curled tail.


2. The large, bright, just-sharpened knife of trying

sliced back and forth

but only got the fingernails,

completely missing the winding, white core of anticipation.


3. The poison affected the movement of the feet toward the door

but not the mind 

holding firmly to the long line of memory

tied around the wrist of anticipation.


4. The concussive force of insistence 

shattered the family,

but let no air into the anticipated space.


5. The drowning and the burning

were so focused on anger that anticipation slipped away

with neither water nor smoke in its lungs.


6. The arduous commitment to good

fed anticipation into a giant on a hill 

overlooking a strewing of dice-like little houses 

and men with watering cans.


7. The disguise of flagellation, excuse and justification

did not in anyway effect 

the skin of anticipation.


8. The pen was no mightier than the sword

nor the word more effective than stones

against the natural and effortless agility of anticipation.


9. The burial of anticipation

in the scabrous tissue of sacrifice

did not actually hide its overwhelming value,

nevertheless no one came to steal it.


10. From a great height,

anticipation grew too sickly to be pushed 

over the precipice and into itself.


11. Starving only made anticipation stronger, fatter

as it savored the breath of its tormentors.


12. An accident might be the only way, 

but through anticipation

it could not be planned.


Dying is not the easy thing

you would either fear or anticipate.

And so anticipating, even fearing it

might keep you from imaging 

an Afterlife that does not wrap you

in its arms, and laughing,

whisper jokes into your ears.


I made arrangements today.

Nothing wrong with me, 

but you never know.

Ashes, ashes.  We all fall down.


But still, I find I'll have to wear a suit.

Thought I could save my last dollars 

for a better glass of wine. 

Just go out like I came.


Even the urn I picked,

more of a job than I thought --

metal, ceramic, cardboard.

Elaborate, simple, and then the colors.


I mean, is it for me -- me without consciousness?

Or for the one who will keep

or disburse my dust?

Good question. I never thought.


And what will they do with them,

my leavings, that end-of-fire being?


Keep me? On the mantle, above the gas fire, maybe?

Or would that depress more than elevate?

And if so, the closet to the back then --

where I would not be seen too often? 


Or sow me peacefully somewhere sylvan 

or filled with deep blue water?

Or put me out, urn and all, on Thursday night

for the morning landfill pickup?


I made arrangements today

to clear things up, make it all eventually 

easier, smoother, simple. But I must confess,

I am now, more, far more confused.


All this for a few secrets

and one vacuum bag of dust?

Erich von Hungen is a writer from San Francisco, California. He lives under a giant Norfolk pine in a century old house between Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean, where his poetry explores the darker side of life. His writing has appeared in Punk Noir, Anti-Heroin Chic, A Thin Slice Of Anxiety, Versification, Not Deer, Brave Voices, Bombfire, Hearth And Coffin and many others. He has  launched four collections of poems the most recent being Bleeding Through: 72 Poems Of Man In Nature.



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