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Eric Hoffman

Eric Hoffman was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1976. He was film and cultural critic for the on-line magazine Mental Contagion from 2000 to 2005. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals worldwide. Two chapbooks are in print, Things Like This Happen All the Time, published by Lone Willow Press in 2000 and Threnody, published in 2006. Currently, he is working on a book-length critical essay on poet George Oppen and a series of poems based on the paintings of Andrew Wyeth.

 

Public Sale (1943)

 

The coronerís gamble paid off,

Yet left the road in ruts, dried

 

In heaps of dirt and dust.

Still they came, neighbors, strangers,

 

Speaking in quiet tones, they stood

With downcast eyes, under a dull sky

 

Thick with rain that would not fall.

One trucker arrived late, driving

 

Over grass to avoid the broken road.

He leaned against the hood and lit

 

His pipe, listening to the auctioneer

Begin his call.  Whatever happened

 

To the farm, no one speaks of it now,

As if the eventís mere mention

 

Would raise a curse or cause the sky

To fall.  They are women and men

 

Pretending not to be, 

Sudden storms, houses grown old

 

As branches, bare as lives become.

Waiting for the call.

   

 

Black Velvet (1972)

 

Black, heat-hewn stones

Inscribed burnt and broken

Arches. Ankles have turned

Bone against skin, delicate sleeves

Of nerves.  Mother, where

Have you gone that you

No longer bathe these legs,

 

Thin from labor and youth,

Tender despite calloused hands,

The debris of some yellow bruise

On shins.  Healed scars,

Remnants of escape, laughter,

A strangerís pursuit,

Themes for future musings.

 

A woman asleep, mystery

Within mystery.  She dreams:

Draped by black velvet dress,

From which she absent-mindedly

In boredom removes burrs

Until his lips touch her neck.

A cold wind sweeps her thigh.

 

Briefly, she wonders,

If this, after all, is the world.

And now, in sleep, something stirs.

Her nakedness is complete.

There is nothing to cover her.

Eve in Eden before the fall,

Or a young woman in solitude

 

Without obligation to keep

Her body secret, or to delight

Secretly in her occupation

As a sobriquet of sin.

Her flat stomach, her white skin,

Ivory smooth, the shallow navel

Folds, a flower in paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

copyright © Eric Hoffman