Sep 092010

William “Kit” Hathaway poem (see links at the bottom of the post for two other poems published on Numéro Cinq plus other Hathaway web presences) is an acute and generous reader. When I asked him for a new poem, he wrote back: “Here’s a poem that seems to fit with the fine Balgach poem, though I wrote it thinking about a Tony Hoagland essay in Poetry before I read ‘Fighting.'”

Just to add a little perspective, here is a paragraph excerpted from Kit’s entry in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

…he mixes tragedy and comedy to satirize and criticize himself, other poets, academia, and various other targets. This blending of tones and modes, along with his recent change to a more serious, wide-ranging satire, make him distinctive and may account for his high standing among his fellow poets, such as Albert Goldbarth and Norman Dubie, who have highly praised Looking into the Heart of Light (1988), with Dubie calling him “a great American poet.”


By William Hathaway

Yes, even for you
who weren’t here yet before
the traffic became too much, too always
and too loud to think, it is
what it is, even so. A saying you say
often that says no matter
what’s said nothing can change
what so relentlessly changes
and so the less said the better,
flipping open your phone,
beeping your car to life,
easing into the ceaseless rush.

A jackknife nests
in my pocket I’ve lost & found
so often for so long I’ve lost the story
of my feeling for it. When it’s lost,
nestled unbeknownst to me
in the crack of a dusty couch, is it
not lost until I miss it? No.
Yes, I’m always saying no
to you now. Look, I’ve found no
you’ll say when you listen.

There’s nothing to say
is the only thing left to say, you say.
So many amusing ways
to say this just by saying something
else before you finish saying
what you were saying. When night
falls and the road becomes
a gushing stream of light, out
creep dark creatures to eat
the dead swept up on the shores
of that river. Even without light
their eyes would blaze out
from black shapes into blackness.

— William Hathaway

See also “Bufflehead Dawn,” “Martin Points,” “Bitterness,” “Betrayal,” “The Poetry Career,” “Today.”

Author Interview with Adam Tavel in Poets’ Quarterly

  3 Responses to “Disperspective: Poem — William Hathaway”

  1. I like it–but then, you know, I’m fond of repetition, and of patterns.

    Does Kit know of upstreet, perchance? It has an outstanding poetry editor (in addition to its other stellar characteristics).

  2. Oh, this poem is wonderful. It has a lucidity and focus that a poet only gets after he’s been at it for awhile—something to strive for, that intentionality, the concise cadence and perfect guidance of each idea, like ladder leading the reader down to that fine ending and its wonderfully gentle wallop. I could just keep rereading those last two lines. In fact, I have been.

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