Four poems by Alec Hershman



To hail a yellow aspect or be overcome
by it is a solar conundrum at the park’s
regenerating edge. A cypress grown
around a hollow of itself, I passed,
as well as families in the grass,
in sunlight, glowing toothily.

I felt close to my feelings, far from home
away from home by footsteps, by the quiet,
perpetual sadness of adequate shoes.

The mercy is this: at any moment, like salt,
I could crystallize, and get subtracted,
or my element morph to a liquid shape,
a maudlin juice-weight in the berries, say,

or a hatred as of rubies, or dust in a sunset,
cruel as a peach; flags woven past weather
to a fence like the fence the early words made
of my body; broomy cliffs of knowledge
over which intending could grow parked,
and like a flag by furling, as well as like
by not, the taxi-heart extends itself,



You slept until there was no sleep,
troubled silver like a fly
in a glass of nightstand water.

I watched you swimming from the tower.
You had a tendency to mist
between sips. You swam concentric ovals.
And but for you, my swimmer,
I counted sleepers instead of sheep.

Oh the moon is a terrible shepherd,
pooling like cream. I thought anything
that starts like a stitch will go round
without vigil: the pucker of a cut,
the bright knot of a bean.
Or the unwakeable child
following his dream instructions.

Oh to watch from the tower at night.
To have fallen from such grace as
even the stars remember
when the moon was one of them.


The Cant is a Barb of Stars and Twisted

Risk is a snake shed of conditions,
a living leather, fresh. As is adolescence
a kind of homelessness and waves
a mad hand at the bobo domestiqués.
Good reason says the gift is food,
so be a mouth. But if the gift
was love, so what? A fickle father-
figure blinks. An accurate bell
on a ding goes bicycle ding.
X, as in a double stroke, marks my face,
a gaudy palsy in a solvent mouth
of platitudes: better off better off
as the cash cast to pyre, as paper
renounces flame—oh dear air
save us from the thieving angels,
their sung and famous names.


Consider the Sunset from the Sun’s Point of View

I was raised in a lather,
arrived long tracked by stills—
still light, still something to eat,
still to survive by textual hatches:
Central Lib was an avocado pit
spit on a straw above a crying shame’s
glass of water—
                             the bomb-worthiness
of knowledge zipped me shelf to shelf;
the notions dipping in my skull
were roots, hair thin and radish white.
Readily, I felt grown until a tendril
pushed me into foliage.
Then I felt young in spite—
spewing the trills with pollen,
fainting petals on my forehead.
I was practically moonsick—
that abiding face like a movie poster’s
rugged mug. What I didn’t know
I half-expected: for the sun
to turn around and peer at me
one horizontal evening over
its own enormous mouth.

Alec Hershman lives in St. Louis where he teaches literature and psychology to fashion and interior design students. He has received awards from The Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, The St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, and The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. You can find links to his work at

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