Monday, May 11, 2020

When the CD Ends
Christopher Hivner

I pull out a CD I haven’t listened to
in a long time,
no memory of what the music sounds like.
I push play
and am assaulted
by sounds that reach out
from the speakers
to strangle me,
affronted that it has been ignored
for so long.
Drums beat through my chest,
guitars tear into my abdomen
like chainsaws
and the singer’s angry screech
pierces my cerebellum.
The music demands to be heard,
needs an audience
to breathe and to live
and I have deprived it,
locked the songs in a cage
like death row inmates.
Finally free
their energy cascades
from ceiling to floor,
shaking my windows,
turning my insides to jelly.
I listen from the couch,
holding on so I don’t
bounce off the walls
like a silver pinball,
spinal fluid leaks from my nose,
my eyes are loose
in their sockets.
The last song begins,
the singer becomes contrite,
begging not to be forgotten,
the guitar and drums play
soft and bluesy,
the bass a calming rhythm
relaxing my body.
When the CD ends
I leave it in the tray
to  listen again tomorrow,
let the music breathe fresh air
keeping it alive
for the creators.


Sneaky Ways
Christopher Hivner

I think about her
too much.
Don’t need a special song
or the smell of
freshly washed hair.
I don’t need to go
to “our” place
or eat that meal
she made better than anyone else.
I think about her
in sneaky ways,
driving to work,
doing dishes,
brushing my teeth,
when I think of the ocean.
I could write songs
about her,
or poems and stories
that end like a greeting card
but none of those
will stop me
from thinking about her
when I’m buying ice cream,
while watching a movie,
on a lonely night
or hiking through the woods.
I think about her
too much.
When I go to bed at night
and when I wake in the morning.

2 a.m., 13 Years Old
Christopher Hivner

My friend and I,
13 years old,
watching HBO late at night,
any movie that had nudity.
Didn’t matter what it was about
or if it was good or bad
as long as it had bare breasts.
We knew which movies to watch
because of the TV guide
which told us what to look for.
The daily double was
nudity and graphic violence,
but just nudity
or just graphic violence
was good too.
Brief nudity and violence
was worth a look
unless the movie was boring.
If the guide said only violence,
never mind,
no one’s head is getting cut off and there are no tits,
what’s the point?
One night at my friend’s house
his mom decided to check on us
at the exact moment
the completely naked girl
we’d been waiting for
walked across the TV screen.
“What are you boys watching?”
“Don’t know, some movie on HBO.”
And we didn’t know.
Couldn’t tell you the title,
the plot or who the actors were.
If the guide said it had
graphic violence and nudity
we were watching.
We were 13 years old,
it was 2 a.m.
and HBO was our god.

Christopher Hivner

Random people
speaking to me in tongues,
the train whistle blows
for final boarding,
I can’t find my luggage.

Hiking on a trail
meant for escapees,
I don’t have time for a photo,
thank you,
I have a train to catch.

The house is empty
except for me,
don’t leave the door open
or the cat will get out.
Where did I put my train ticket?

November is a bleak month,
the cold soaks my bones.
I can’t see through the black sky
for the stars,
I need to take a trip.

Late today,
read about it in the paper.
Break the tension
with a soft condolence,
the funeral is over, but I still feel it.


Endless Clips of Ammo
Christopher Hivner

Serial killer in Toronto
Two police officers shot in Colorado
Homeless men gunned down in Las Vegas
Good morning,
time to go out into a world
that waits for you
with a mouthful of fangs
and endless clips of ammo.

Five headless bodies in Mexico
13 year old girl stabbed
Football player run down by drunk driver
Walk out your front door
into a world
that hates you.
Drink your morning coffee
to stay alert
for the one
that has your name.

Earthquake in Taiwan
Hurricane in Puerto Rico
Typhoon in Indonesia
Work all day with one eye
glancing over your shoulder,
speak to others
but don’t say the wrong word.

Tax cuts for the rich, but not for you
Health insurance for senators, but not for you
A raise for congress, but none for you
Drive home,
comfortable in the knowledge
that no one
is going to help you.

Go to sleep
with a prayer
or an upraised middle finger,
whichever helps you cope,
knowing that during the night
the world will keep spinning
toward oblivion.


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