Self-Portraits with Pierre


My kneecap is a magnet for mosquitos.

They assemble under the picnic pavilion

And form a small cloud, the shape of a Pierre’s

Kerchief falling from his chin.



In the forest the large mushrooms bloom.

They are a theater.

They are a light show. Green light

Or Pierre is spilling the jar of pickles.



My sadness is a bag of stones.

My sadness is a pile of pulled weeds.

My sadness is so tired of lawn care.

My sadness is Pierre, eyes open, underwater.



I go home and wrap myself in linoleum.

Pierre is watching a movie about Martin Luther King.

The quiet highway leads to a mountain.

Squint hard and you can seep out of your skin.



I have a red hammer

Three nails and a wall.

Pierre, I can hang a picture for you.



My friend Pierre is obsessed with clouds.

He rented a fog machine and for hours

Filled his house with a fine mist.

Finally Pierre has learned to sleep.



I left the faucet on

And a small red bird

Came to drink from the stream.

I named him Pierre.



I left the window open

And the storm clouds rained

And the rain washed away the dirty dishes.

Pierre, you are a splendid housekeeper!



When the city swells with the smell of fabric softener

And sudden buds of white laundry flap

Against the stone-gray sky

I know Pierre is singing from the window.


Photo Credit: Jef Fisher via Creative Commons

About the author

Nathan Hoks is the author of two books of poems, Reveilles and The Narrow Circle, which was a winner of the 2012 National Poetry Series. A chapbook, Moony Days of Being, won the 2017 Tomaž Šalamun Prize and was recently published by Factory Hollow Press. Hoks teaches at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Chicago.

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