Monday Jul 16

hagan-undergrad.jpg Maximilian Hagen’s poems have delighted and surprised me in all their various manifestations: verse dramas, prose poems, and compressed lyric narratives. They might be based on a loose memory or two, or not, and they are always imaginative romps and extraordinary in the way they see everything new. His language is straightforward, with an authority and equilibrium that enables him to steady the reader as he sets forth his quirky, unsettling, often hilarious images. He is an original— and, I’d like to add, he has been a joy to work with, both in the classroom and in our mentoring relationship. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Maximilian to the Connotation Press audience. Enjoy!
                                                                                                                Maureen Seaton
 
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Maximilian Hagen was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. He has had a lifelong fascination with severe weather, and is an active storm chaser who travels across the United states in search of tornados and hurricanes. He maintains a web page where he posts his weather footage. Maximilian is also an active environmentalist. He interns for the climate group 1Sky, and has been the president of Greenpeace at the University of Miami for the last year. Maximilian's first real exposure to poetry came his senior year of high school, and in the years since has continued to write both at school and on his own time. He was the poetry editor of Paris/Atlantic, a bi-annual creative writing magazine when he was a freshman attending college in France. He graduated from the University of Miami with a creative writing major in 2009.
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On Thursdays
 
 
At breakfast I see figures rising in the egg steam.
Ghosts condense in my mom’s hair as she sips tea.
 
My doctor writes prescriptions like a bird with a gun.
Pharmacists stare at my ears and recite warning labels.
 
Before sunset I take pictures of photographs in my den.
The seven o’clock scarabs clink like loose staples.
 
In the attic I watch orb weavers drop through the fiberglass.
Torn webs diffuse between my fingers like salt.
 
Dinner boils while dad plays footsie with the copy machine.
The hot broccoli haze is an extinguished forest fire.
 
Late in the evening I drink coffee to watch winter storms.
Outside the air fills with snow like shredded moths.
 
I lie in bed and feel the clatter of crickets in the yard.
My eyelashes fluttering against the pillowcase sound like thunder.
 
 
 
Six at Night
 
 
We sat heel to hams atop
the roof, the moon a dead
fish in a washing machine.
My sister told me about
balloons she threw into dust devils
and scorpions under her shirt.
 
Our house was on the fence
horizon at the edge of town
in the fire weeds. My sister 
looped spaghetti grass shoots
around her finger and talked of
weaving a dress and not whirlwinds.
 
 
 
Wailuku River


eels swam like lost sound waves
trees dropped leaves when the wind blew
the trains in town were silent

a sampan came up the river
the Korean man steering it
looked back at his orange pulp gillnet
he pinched a sour plum in his cheek

I yelled “ain’t no good fish here”
the man scratched his forehead
he hollered “shit I just seen a school
of ahi come up ‘dis river a second ago”

his wake splashed on the river rocks
he drifted farther upstream by the banyans
hanging like rope ladders from space



Will Make Lemonade
 
 
BROOKLYN – Wanted, math tutor to assist my ten year old daughter. Third grade has overwhelmed her – last week she coughed out a division problem. She is free every weekday between her naptime and dinner.
 
QUEENS–Wanted, painter to hide water damage that drools down my living room wall like squid legs. Last painter stopped after his brush flicked a map of Polynesia across living room. No quitters! I will make you lemonade with extra sugar.
 
BRONX – Wanted, repairman to fix streetlight outside our bedroom window. City not willing to help! The light clinks all night – like a penny spinning in a dryer. We are forced to sleep in the bathtub. Help us.
 
MANHATTAN – Wanted, roommate for fantastic studio at 24th and Broadway. Checkerboard wood floors, cots that screech and ice tray windows in the winter. Sun naturally cuts the place in half when the blinds are cracked in the late afternoon. Available now.
 
QUEENS – Wanted, female companion for afternoon trips to pizza places. I dream of you and I standing in line, pointing our fingers at the menu like rifles. The best pizza has crust that cracks like glass – do you agree?
 
 
 
The Death of Margie
 
 
My brother pitched the ball, his feet sinking in the muddy grass that stank of rotting vegetables. I pointed at Dad’s tool shed and cracked the ball on impact. I flicked the bat and heard a squabble scream and saw feathers discharge like a detonated down pillow. Margie slumped over, beak stabbed into our backyard, her gobbler legs crossed like a crucifix.
 
Where in Heaven does a hen sleep that never aged enough to lay an egg?

“It was instant death,” Mom said with her knees far apart as she smoked by the alligator pen. I imagined I had seen the vapors of Margie’s chicken soul blast skyward before my bat had stopped rolling. My parents’ burger stand was empty because no one wanted to drive through the Everglades on a day that hot, so we gathered at the point of death. The 14 foot gator mom found as a baby shredding banana peels in a garbage can nuzzled against his chain link fence—eyeing Margie’s wrinkled legs.
 
Is it true that summer plans on setting fire to the swamp?
 
I pressed a shovel into the ground while mom slapped dirt off her jeans. The movement of her hands stirred up the scent of gasoline. I shoveled out three scoops of soft earth. Dad waved away a mosquito and handed me Margie’s body head down—her little feet pointing to the heavens. My brother and I said a brief prayer while Mom and Dad looked towards the road and the roar of a passing truck.
 
Is there nothing dangerous about the color of gasoline?
 
Margie was placed delicately into the hole. Dad filled the grave and made a metallic ding as he slapped the shovel over the disturbed ground. It was right then, as the funeral closed and the sweetness of the marsh heated my nostrils, that I thought of something to say. But when I turned to my mom she had already left to throw beef to the alligator.
 
If death is coming, then what direction is it coming from?