Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Hans Reading, Hans Smoking


My mother, poised around behavior, would say
You are sitting there reading and smoking, Hans,
And this would describe for her, to her utter

Satisfaction, what it is you are doing.
Knowing you I guess you are stationed there
In grief, reverie, worry--your car broken

Down, the mechanic wanting money, and you without,
For the moment, what it takes--and you thinking
Of love lost as you read that impossible book

Your father last gave you....I see you smoking
And as an addict myself I know this is something
You are barely doing....The habit smokes itself

And you, you are turning the page where the woman
From New Orleans, like your woman, goes to Manhattan.
I suppose my mother, in her mania, could never afford

To think there was anything hovering around, anything
Behind behavior. Unable to sit, to go into that sorrow
Where what failed to happen presses against what did,

She would get up, go out looking for "Something
Different," do anything to keep moving, behaving...
Going. But you, Hans, you are a sitter, and I know

You will not be getting up until you have put this time 
Behind you. And so your friends pass by waiting,
Wanting to know what you will come up with when you rise

From your stationary chair, our Hans reading and smoking.

Credit


From American Prodigal by Liam Rector, published by Story Line Press. Copyright © 1994 by Liam Rector. Reprinted by permission of the author and Story Line Press.

Author


Liam Rector

The author of three books of poetry, Liam Rector founded and directed the graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College

Date Published: 1994-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hans-reading-hans-smoking