- Writers Retreat
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Today, two new poems by Matthew Hittinger: “I Could Not Say” and “Keystone Effect: KKK Rally in Carlisle.”
I COULD NOT SAY
what drew me to you
only that it is akin to what draws me to hues
on certain canvases : brown and green cubes,
hazel circles, black dots each eye and my blue
pastel strokes each lip like a Marin cityscape
spoken in soft tones then silent like a bridge,
your tousled hair : on one hand like a ridge
of straw, of dried cornstalks left fallen to scrape
other fallen cornstalks on the damp wormy earth;
on the other hand the composition and color
of Duchamp’s Nude Descending Stairs that solar
streak of the body in motion. For what it’s worth
your stature is like Modigliani’s lengthened lines
always taller in my mind. I can say now how
your lips feel as they close over chin and brow
lip rush on flesh like flesh on marble when signs
say DO NOT TOUCH; how your hair scratches
knuckle and thigh, face and neck as if a horse-
haired brush stroked and then stippled, Morse
code of coupling; how your cubic eye watches
a portrait whose gaze trails as your gaze trailed
yet more alive than any portrait in words or oil
it endures here blinded from time this loyal
eye reflected image squared our bodies Brailled.
KEYSTONE EFFECT: KKK RALLY IN CARLISLE
Orange : the roadblock blinked three
streets down striped carrot and white
an invite like a stranger who offers
a creamsicle to a child.
Purple ribbons trimmed the streets
an effort to speak : that silence found
in a balloon let go by a child, in a closed shop-
window plastered with posters.
Orange : the wall of mesh fence erected
around the court house barricaded
square. Police women patrolled on horses.
A filtered voice broke the crowd.
Purple steeples tolled cold at two.
A teenage tough guy covered his girl’s
tattoos. She struggled to break a tree’s ribbon
bow distorted a sagging knotted mass.
Orange : the sweater I wore that day when
twenty men marched masked in white
sheets a hundred feet from our bed
its tangled blue comforter.
MATTHEW HITTINGER is the author of the chapbooks Pear Slip (Spire Press, 2007) winner of the Spire 2006 Chapbook Award, Narcissus Resists (GOSS183/MiPOesias, 2009), and Platos de Sal (Seven Kitchens Press, 2009). Born and raised in Bethlehem, PA, Matthew received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan where he won a Hopwood Award for Poetry and The Helen S. and John Wagner Prize. His work has appeared in many journals including the anthology Best New Poets 2005. Matthew lives and works in New York City.