Two Poems by Carlie Hoffman





There are so many lunatics in this city and sometimes
I am one of them. Sometimes I still forget
to change my socks before going out to eat, 
into the evening wind, its sky of three bleak stars. 
I go out without washing my hair, away from my small
rented room and its one cracked wall
mosaicked in taped-on postcards from cities
much more elegant and clean
than I have ever been.
I am lying. I do not forget
nearly anything and so many lovers ago it was spring. 
I lived in a town in Jersey named
for its neatly cut grass. It’s true
I thought a lot about dying as I drove each morning
to buy gas station coffee. I have never told this
to anyone. Instead, after waitressing the dinner shift
wearing last night’s black socks
I would go to my favorite bar
and order beer. I would lie down drunk
in the grass looking up
at all those tiny bursts of bright dead light
and learn a different form for surrender.





Tonight winter lays its cold hand on your forehead, and the valley rinses white with snow. You
swear, finally, you could sleep through April. You could sleep, if only the grackle at the window
stopped tapping her hard beak to glass. The slow sheet of her body brief, shining color against the
dark. What the pines once were before snowfall. It’s the smallest noises, you remember, that carry
deep loss. Like a key splashing into a pond. The grackle calls from the ledge, her song dim and
precise as a bell, and you begin to suck on an ending that makes most sense: You as a boy running
errands with your mother. Your red gloves. The silver bell above the butcher’s front door, the
butcher who loved your hair. Sometimes he’d give you sausage dangling from a thin, white string.
This kept you happy, you decide, kept you still, the boar staring down from the hook. At your
window the winter sky turns silver, turns away, and it occurs to you, now, in this moment, how you
never thought about its heart. You assumed, no— believed, the heart lives. That one day it will eat
its way out and sing.