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Joe Hall

Joe Hall is the author of The Devotional Poems (Black Ocean, 2013). He teaches at SUNY Buffalo and lives in Kenmore, New York.

By This Poet

2

UTOPIA: Love as Free as a Fountain

How could the news come?
We drove with my second cousins to
The orchards at the feet of the Catskills.

We cut three names into a tree.
And when I burned my wrist in the cannery
So badly it began to bubble,

You were there with a bucket of cold water.
Among the tons of softening apples
You smelled like cinnamon burning. That night

I watched you play the piano with Jamie and Evan
Who were both, at some point, your lovers—
My heart in such a confusion,

Their bows drawing diagrams in the air,
This moment so close to prayer.

Utopia: Love as Last Day

The forest rings so wide, it is the world. The sky, ocean,
        hand
In hand rising to tides, particulate excreta. The river mouth

The moon lights in blindness through the forest, hot,
        tumbling silver by houses
Like mushrooms crowded. Ladder by ladder, neighbors
        pass ore in ladles

While this planet hushes into a cinder. The moon unlocks
        its continents of water
So the outline of a sail appears as its cobalt face—the forest

A ring tight as the throat sings wider: who arrives
Who arrives who arrives. In the office I ask

If the cup my coworker is holding is real. It doesn’t look
        real. It looks like math’s
Translated bed. Beside their chainsaws, loggers smoking—        
        brain-

Dead, lung-dead, I am the operator of something—the
        mouth with green rot touching
The metal slurry of the ocean.

The singer sings the last verse. The last
Song we hear, stepping outside the heat

Into the dark pine, the moon dissolving like lead.
In the office I ask, How could the news come?

In our terror echoing as profit.