Sunday Rumpus Serialization: Two Poems


Poet and visual artist David Hernandez interrogates mortality in two new poems:



The New

If forty is the new thirty then ten is
the new infant.  Housing development
a coyote roaming a hillside
swaying with windblown foxtail.
New wave is the new grunge, disco
the new new wave,
but punk is still punk.

You reading this
is no longer you reading this
but rather your eyes a decade ago
skating down a menu:
Tuna Melt  
Turkey Club  
Who eats tuna melt these days?
What is the lifespan
of albacore, the ones that dart
past the net?  I miss my dead grandparents

who are the new grandparents
alive and coughing
in a nursing home, its doilies
the wool of unborn sheep.
In the waiting room, my long
eyelashed nephew
napped across blue sofa chairs,

Rain is the new ocean.
The ocean, the new rain.



Gene Test

Now is after the fact.

Before, a cloud of bees
frenzied above the neighbor’s yard, then ours.

Which is to say, hazard cannot stay long

in one place.  Or one place is
never hazardless.  Two weeks

we waited for the results, two weeks

I dissolved a cube of ice
in whisky, and Lisa’s mind was always

elsewhere, already cutting out

her breasts, her ovaries.  Then the terrible
weight was crushed, the fine powder

swept to the vanishing point,

and I felt, for a few footsteps, that we were
immortal, our cells

never honeycombing toward ruin.

Slaphappy heart, bamboozled brain,
I also had believed the bees

an omen, how they mobbed and sizzled

around our angels’ trumpet tree
as if the yellow flowers could finally

blow notes.  That humming: it was not music.

More like the drone of a chainsaw
a block away, dismantling another sapling.


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 →