JAMES HOCH Letters to the Brother


Because my brother’s not yet
In cartoCaptain America, not yet Achilles.

Because bags packed, standing
In cartoin front of a mirror as he buttons

his shirt, there’s still time to draw
In cartohis face rising out of itself, the way

dust unfolds into a storm of dust.
In cartoAnd because I have two fears—

one he returns changed, the other
In cartonot at all—his eyes take the contour

of my worry, his mouth my word
In cartoto care for the house, yard, his dogs

which, once he’s gone, become
In cartomy waiting pacing in circles,

pawing at ground, sniffing the air,
In cartoas if they’ve misplaced him.



In cartoons, a woman sweeps pollen off a porch
In cartoand the stirred cloud becomes a monster

In cartoIn cartoravaging a Midwestern town.

A farmer knocks a hive from an eave
In cartoand alien bees swarm him into a mutant zombie.

In cartoIn cartoIt’s always someone you know,
In cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartobut can’t speak to.

In Boston, a boy trying to be a man,
In cartoIn cartotrying not to embarrass himself, rigs

In cartoa pressure cooker into a squall
In cartoIn cartoIn cartoof screw and bearing and shrapnel.

In cartoIn cartoI am trying to get my head around it.

Today it’s snowing and the angels
In cartomade of white are going white.

In cartoIn cartoBecause I have no god, I am thinking

snow words nothingness,
In cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartohow we are
In cartoIn cartopromised at the end

In cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartospells break,
In cartoplagues lift, a day turns simple,
In cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartoIn cartothat the aftermath

breathes the slow rush of the living.
In cartoIn cartoBecause 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.