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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 12, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I was eleven years old when Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998; he died on the twelfth of October. Around the same time, I was working on a school project on Italian Renaissance sculptures, so many of which depict male nudes. These two events are linked in my mind, as I think it was the first time I began to glimpse the costs of being a body that desires.”
—Richie Hofmann

Book of Statues

Because I am a boy, the untouchability of beauty
is my subject already, the book of statues
open in my lap, the middle of October, leaves
foiling the wet ground
in soft copper. “A statue
must be beautiful
from all sides,” Cellini wrote in 1558.
When I close the book,
the bodies touch. In the west,
they are tying a boy to a fence and leaving him to die,
his face unrecognizable behind a mask
of blood. His body, icon
of loss, growing meaningful
against his will.

Copyright © 2016 by Richie Hofmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Richie Hofmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Richie Hofmann

Richie Hofmann

Richie Hofmann is the author of Second Empire (Alice James Books, 2015). 

by this poet

poem

I look for words in the dark,
silently describing to myself
the particular conditions of the weather
on the morning I saw you most recently—
the wind, its patterned disarray—
my mind elsewhere, distracted, lyrical,
while the pianist plays an encore.
Mozart was born on this day

poem

It was not penitence I sought, standing outside
the bedroom in the old apartment

where you had spent the night alone.
To bend, to kneel before some greater force—

that was no longer what I wished.
Clouds blew in from the coast, and I felt

the sun abandoning the window behind me,