Sunday Jun 23

HilbertErnestcreditRickMalouf Ernest Hilbert's collection Caligulan was selected as winner of the 2017 Poets' Prize. He lives in Philadelphia.

House and Home


The raccoon is sinister, quick and silent,
With strange human hands and black mineral

Eyes that shine and seem to know me somehow.
She noses smoothly past feral cats

To get at the bowl of food we’ve left out.
Our own cats watch patiently through the screen.

Birds drop in swerving squadrons from branches.


In the house, at night, I wait for a ghost
To present itself in the creaking halls.

Trains groan low and vibrate across the meadow.
Refinery fires pulse on the river.

But no ghost, not yet. When I rise at night
For the bathroom, past the empty spare room,

I feel a boy’s fingers, faint as snow, on my wrist.

Campo Santo

It’s no use moping around graves,
Thinking about their chalk stillness,
How moss fills in the shallow wells
Of incised alphabets and dates.

There’s no point lounging
In ruins, ancient or modern,
To see wind-blurred marble
Or storm-rusted girders, cracked windows.

Instead, go to a park on a June day,
Watch children at play, a boy
Reaching up, hanging a moment
In warm air, to snatch a Frisbee

As it completes its sailing arc
And the sun sparks in a raw
Corona around his skull as he falls.
You have to be in the right place.

Photo by Rick Malouf