Sunday Rumpus Serialization: Three Poems


Dear Debaser
after the Pixies’ Doolittle


There’s nothing mild about you, nothing tame,
everything’s amplified and wild.
Take the wave of mutilation that is your hair, hacked
in handfuls with a butterfly knife.  Take the black skull
you’ve Sharpied onto your own glass eye.

In short: you creep me out.
The giant keyhole of your shadow
sends a wind through my body.  Every time I see it
I’m reminded that I bleed, that I’m a soap bubble
wobbling over a cactus garden.

I’m comforted by the knowledge
my friends feel the same way.  Within our circle,
“Here comes your man” is code for “Play possum
until the air smells like primroses again.”

Dead is how you’d like me,
a calligraphy of bones is how, just one more
monkey gone to heaven.

Not yet, Mr. Grieves—

Crackity Jones tops your to-do list,
followed by Maryanne Meth, lift her glass pipe
to your ear and you’ll hear the slow
ocean of her voice, singing La la love you…

Nobody’s unaccounted for.  Your roll call
goes something like: No. 11 Athlete, No. 12 Vegan,
No. 13 Baby,  No. 14 Yoga Instructor.

Am I right?  Do firearms have firewrists that bend
firehands?  Is it not you who pulls the trigger
whenever someone says “There goes my gun”?

Hey.  Answer me.  It’s two in the morning
and the world’s too quiet, mute
as the moon, which floats above my neighbor’s roofline
silver and gibbous and pockmarked, I keep forgetting

some craters were made from asteroids
stage-diving across our galaxy,
faces aflame, screaming Gouge away!



There’s Rogaine, Propecia, Tricomin, Folligen.
      There’s a comb          over, raking what you’ve got
to a spot          not bristling.          There’s hats:

baseball, fedora, ten-gallon, sombrero,
      derby, beret.           There’s a tattoo artist
who’s needled brows on a woman          tired of tweezing,

a burly man          who’ll give your scalp
      the illusion of locks.
Have you considered          a wig?           Its wee brother

the toupee?           Have you contemplated
      hair restoration
or do you think          a dead man’s thoughts

would burrow into your brain?           Seriously, stop
      dwelling          how time is pushing
a mower over your cranium.

This is only one          of a hundred-plus ways
      our bodies wilt.          These
are your options.           The other:           live forever.


This Be The Cure

You fuck yourself up.  Ask your brain.
    It’s on you: everything you feel.
Here comes a truck hauling some pain,
    And there you are behind the wheel.

David Hernandez is the recipient of a 2011 NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry. His recent collection, Hoodwinked, won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and is now available from Sarabande Books. His other collections include Always Danger (SIU Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). His poems have appeared in FIELD, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, The Missouri Review, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, and Poetry Daily. He is also the author of two YA novels, No More Us for You and Suckerpunch, both published by HarperCollins. David teaches at the University of California, Irvine and poetry workshops at California State University, Long Beach. He lives in Long Beach and is married to writer Lisa Glatt. Visit his website at More from this author →