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About this poet

David Hernandez is the author of Dear, Sincerely (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016); Hookwinked (Sarabande Books, 2011), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry; Always Danger (Southern Illinois University Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series; and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). Hernandez’s honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He teaches creative writing at California State University, Long Beach, and at California State University, Fullerton, and lives in Long Beach.

Varieties of Internal Torment

Under the linden, a weatherworn
bench. Eleven wooden slats in all

to build a simple thing for sitting.
The one still generating green,

shawled in August sunlight,
hovers over the one chainsawed

and hauled to the lumberyard.
Each time it was split, sawdust leapt.

The bench was built. Years passed
and now a pair of students sit together.

One has something impossible to say
without hurting the other.

Hunched, bent from the burden of it,
while the sun continues to

spangle the linden, green flame
after green flame, their faces dappled

in leaf-shadow. He knows he must
confess, how to hammer the sentences

with enough nails spiking out
from compressed lips. It will be over

soon, his hesitation marked by
how red the stripes behind her thighs.

Copyright © 2017 David Hernandez. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

Copyright © 2017 David Hernandez. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

David Hernandez

David Hernandez

David Hernandez is the author of Dear, Sincerely (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016); Hookwinked (Sarabande Books, 2011); Always Danger (Southern Illinois University Press, 2006); and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003).

by this poet

poem
The donkey. The donkey pulling the cart.
The caravan of dust. The cart made of plywood,
of crossbeam and junkyard tires. The donkey
made of donkey. The long face. The long ears.
The curled lashes. The obsidian eyes blinking
in the dust. The cart rolling, cracking the knuckles
of pebbles. The dust. The blanket
poem
My condolences to the man dressed
for a funeral, sitting bored
on a gray folding chair, the zero

of his mouth widening in a yawn.
No doubt he's pictured himself inside
a painting or two around his station,

stealing a plump green grape
from the cluster hanging above
the corkscrew locks of Dionysus,

or shooting
poem
The widower in silk pajamas slides
his hand along a glossy blue sleeve,

thinking, Water to fabric, rivulet
slipped through a needle’s eye.

He’s all ripples when he moves,
all waves breaking against flesh.

He read in the paper the human body is
80 percent water. He is almost

a brook when he wanders