Because my brother’s not yet
Captain America, not yet Achilles.
Because bags packed, standing
in front of a mirror as he buttons
his shirt, there’s still time to draw
his face rising out of itself, the way
dust unfolds into a storm of dust.
And because I have two fears—
one he returns changed, the other
not at all—his eyes take the contour
of my worry, his mouth my word
to care for the house, yard, his dogs
which, once he’s gone, become
my waiting pacing in circles,
pawing at ground, sniffing the air,
as if they’ve misplaced him.
In cartoons, a woman sweeps pollen off a porch
and the stirred cloud becomes a monster
ravaging a Midwestern town.
A farmer knocks a hive from an eave
and alien bees swarm him into a mutant zombie.
It’s always someone you know,
but can’t speak to.
In Boston, a boy trying to be a man,
trying not to embarrass himself, rigs
a pressure cooker into a squall
of screw and bearing and shrapnel.
I am trying to get my head around it.
Today it’s snowing and the angels
made of white are going white.
Because I have no god, I am thinking
snow words nothingness,
how we are
promised at the end
plagues lift, a day turns simple,
that the aftermath
breathes the slow rush of the living.
Because I am here, I am complicit.
James Hoch is the author of two books of poems: Miscreants and A Parade of Hands, winner of the Gerald Cable Book Award. His work has been published in American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Hoch is Professor of Creative Writing at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Guest Faculty at Sarah Lawrence.