Poetry » Hannah Wells »


Parts of The Day That Fall Short

funeral procession en route
tinted windows recurrent
like the unblinking eyes of a crocodile
the slow lurk of its reptilian armor
partially concealed leaves the imagination to conjure a death roll

the sun floods our mouths like honeycomb
casting out the bones we build into cages
the nailed shut parts of the soul unloosed as the shadow
between leafed whips of trees
little bodies
engraved sweet on the horizon,
a thick tongue of time
dissolved to numb entreaties for prescience like sap

‘season of change’ redundant
a golden script against the uncatchable daylight, hypnotic
the way beauty
camouflages itself in disquietude

sidewalk is tattooed with photosynthetic impressions
of fallen leaves as if the wet footprints of angels
tickled by its sandpaper texture
wondering if this is what memory feels like
in the wake of the mourned

monarchs raise the ground with each step
over the grass, fertilizer green
littered with shriveling bouquets
abandoned by the living, lost on the dead

the churned dirt is the color of five am
cautionary seduction, crumbling from the hands
that resurrect its purpose
and sprinkle the pine-box scalp
a grace customary
of those left standing.


For F

you are a bird, or a restive
threadbare spirit
held together by compassion
and fibers of solidarity
tormented by the edges you cannot see
circles drawn in blood
to preserve the ritual of honor
compulsion to balance entropy
as reconfiguration of the self you once knew

ossified like amber
gentle, vulnerable parts of you caught
beneath what you have witnessed,
acts called upon you to commit
and compel you to grasp for reason
in the dark, you dismantle

an incumbent guilt

scars barely kissed by memory
like consummate seals
now distilled into intense hunger

traces of the boy you were linger
glimpsed at the crook of your mouth and eyes
but which age grows around in retreat
gravitas of the silently yearning

you have the latitudinal depth to vanish
circumventing the time it takes you to realize
that abstraction of freedom is already present
in confinement, a terrain shared by more than ghosts

the taste of your own shadow
tinged with all you carry, unsatisfied
you fold into the vaulted strength of tree-line,
just a man, walking in pursuit of his horizon.


Someone more qualified than I
was chosen to name names
and quantify traits numerically
that limited you to earth
a glacial claustrophobia
as if to frame time with death

I never did get a straight answer
metaphysical, medical, mental
          lateral slip, we all left
in our way, drug down by the heels
fighting less

the sun set in pastel ink
creasing the newspaper
its fine dust of language
an exhalation of the light
into which you were lowered,
by funerary rituals like an obviate annulment

it is a kind of prayer
clinical, without the meticulous habit
of a rosary or invocation
and to imagine other people reading
a violation,
          territorial wilderness
enters my chest
prickly, heat-stroke and dizzy
I take it all home with me, the gouged out
knowledge of

your supine face,
tacit words
roped by your esophagus
a taut rabbit hole
I could never follow
          before the daylight took you
the pledge to beat this
buried with

          the obituary

another little way
you had to die,
bloodless, inexpressible
to those who had only read it

Inevitable Departure

‘remember my chains’
apostolic candles in the prison
straw on the floor kicked loose from messianic dirt
the absurd beauty for hope to be contained
on the dry tongue of persecution
iron manacles forged in vocation

of words swallowed up by sky
burn like chaff

composite earth releases the forsaken
summoned by a fourth wind
the will, the blood, and the pneuma
to be breathed or blown from nothing
conjoins to thunder
descending as a chariot

she emerges
lanterns string the night like pearls
a semi-colon in the sweat at her clavicle
mud dried thickly on the hem of her skirt,
her wade through Ezekiel’s valley
when the dust settled
over cartilage of disgrace

the tragic solvency of worth
after an age defining it by enclosure
wilderness stones identical to white kneecaps
and the cheeks of a graveyard like ossified penitence
thirsty for sustenance
unable to conjure resurrection
from the ochre dread of its genesis state

transcendent chrysalis
the caterpillar,
its alternate self pre-existent,
meridian advent,
a Lazarus arrival from the gloaming crypt
quietus an awakening

she no longer bleeds brittle, caked hurt born from year-long miles

and when quenched

she yields

valves of the wounded bleeding out
unloosed like a flock of indentured wings
the presence leaves the body, conceives freedom
for the first time as inherited
bound by ichor not the bone

With My Soul

the view is disorienting, the view
          of me on the ground
grass sprawls through the rush of morning
          broken by crocuses, the frightened

petals tremor like vocal chords
          unfrozen, things necessary to say
after I lay my head on her chest
          the verge of another waste land

spring cannot outlast
          the image of death on my tongue
as if I could speak myself into ending
          terror a cancer already shining

lighthouse phantom towards which I steer
          sings ‘it is well’
faith the anchor, drags through the ocean
          sediment and coral

that floats up around my legs
          between the spirit and the form
I am no longer standing
          firmness unravels

the shoreline of my vision
          I am no longer standing on my own
the scent of her is my dream
          in the foam of my hair crashing at his tower wall

the dizzy fall, trajectory of my hope
          my flaw to let go, to go
to let myself go