Monday Jul 22

HenselHastings Hastings Hensel is the author of the forthcoming Winter Inlet, winner of the 2014-2015 Unicorn Press First Book Contest, as well as the chapbook Control Burn, winner of the 2011 Iron Horse Literary Review Single Author Contest. His poems appear in storySouth, The Greensboro Review, 32 Poems, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and other journals and magazines. He lives in Murrells Inlet, SC and is a lecturer of English at Coastal Carolina University, where he serves as Poetry Editor of Waccamaw. Each summer he heads up to his alma mater to serve on the staff of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Visit his website here.

Having Remembered an Ice Storm

Stir-crazy, staring out like cats at
that view to die for, which, encased,
            seemed to have died—                       

the oak trees, frozen, never stirring
when the wind came, nor any music
            from the chimes.                       

Everywhere the smell of fresh pines
where their limbs had splintered,
            and jays zipped by.

And before the thaw what we thought
was snow, though it was only whitecaps
            that lifted into gulls

pulled into a sky full of cumuli
that, you said, looked like old

and purposeful in their changes.
What else but memory rearranges
            a year, a day

on the near shore where a kite
plummets to become sail, then
            a heron, breeze-

blown on the back lawn, then
a moth I find rummaging among
            your summer things?

Playing Cards with Mark Strand
Sewanee Writers’ Conference, 2012

Of this I’m sure:
I wasn’t sure.

Perhaps he had
what he didn’t—

two of a kind,
a kind of rhyme,

something that might
suggest the world

less random than
the world of which

he’d lectured then
suggests: something,

yes, metrical—
a straight or flush,

but I’d guessed
to call his bluff

because? Because
he was an existentialist?

Nothing. No thing.
Or nothingness?

I have nothing,
he said, then laid

his cards face up
so that we saw

he told the truth.
That’s what they said

of poets, too.
They told the truth.

So funny, yes,
How he said it:

I have nothing
And now we laugh

because? Because
that was something.

Plot Summary

Back then it could have been
what it isn’t,

and now the years are less
than sentences,

and now how quaint it seems,
the little street

on which the house once stood.
So easy to think:

the children have fled the streets,
all joy is gone.

One might as well speak of storm
clouds gathering.

To make a long story shorter,
I’ll start over.

From my window it’s very plain:
No children. Clouds.