January 21, 2004

Two poems by David Hernandez:

Tempo Records

That record store huddled against the corner
of town held all the treasures a moody boy
ever wanted. Fifteen bucks in his pocket meant
a fifteen minute drive to Tempo, meant greeting
Sara behind the counter with Hey, and Sara

replying Hey, her hair dyed so black it turned
to blue felt by the window. Nowhere else
would he have found that Pavement EP,
those four songs he memorized like hymns.

Or the Grifters’ One Sock Missing, blasts
of static from Memphis, damaged melodies
the boy sang in his car, hummed in his room.
In the back, a black door closed and paint-
chipped, bright stickers slapped on haphazardly.

A black door and skinny Jay behind it,
rolling a joint. At the register the boy slid
the Spoon CD toward Sara, pulled out
the crumpled five and ten, two speakers

nailed to the walls of the store thumping
with the sound of Russell Simmons mugging
his drum kit. Sara’s eyes bloodshot
from who knows what and the boy’s
studying the crisscross of his shoelaces.

Sara wearing despair on her face like blush
and the boy wearing it like a jacket, shoulders
hunched from the weight of it. But the tunes
helped, guitars chainsawing the quiet helped.

And that was six winters ago. That boy
hung up that jacket. That record store emptied
for the Veterinary Clinic that took its place,
for the sick cats, the broken winged parrots,
all those howling dogs waiting for treatment.

Sex and Death

Always the same two themes pushing through
the revolving door of the page or canvas:

O’Keefe’s skulls and vaginal irises, petals
engorged and flaming crimson. It’s the story

of the teenagers walking their libidos
to a moonlit cemetery, their studded tongues

clinking in the dark. And the mortician,
after a long day of opening cadavers like purses,

comes home to his magazines, glossy women
touching themselves as if to say, Here I am.

Here too, how the ashes of a woman I never met
cool inside the urn on a shelf. Gray dust,

bone-chip of pelvis or femur, her daughter
in the next room, her pelvis crashing into mine,

the bedroom fertile with the night’s soil
for us to plant the blue flowers of our breathing.


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