Paul Hoover

Chinese Figures

let me say the song
that will sing it well

song’s long sound:
cries along the hall

hare in the moon
man on the ground

the doors are wide open
all is context now

no thatched cottage
but a beach house on the hill

the rain is heavy
mist all over the roads

cars driving
and in the wrong direction

no footsteps on the landing
none in the house

a show place for the sun
everywhere it goes

hot on the water
caught among the rocks

shining up the stairs
the wrong way now

gods on the ground
are changed by our desires

sounds like something real
but no one spends attention

we’re overloaded now
every surface known

indecently as well
a culture numbed and stung

by the image it’s become
work it hasn’t done

everything’s forever
no changes in the sun

what feels old is triumph
silence begs a hearing

something like a pause
every note is yes

there’s no such thing as none
until you add it up

hold me in your hearts
fold me on your tongues

fire’s song, tree’s gone
now the lights are on

silly yet indecent
innocent as well

syllables are able
it’s a tribal day

nature makes mistakes
all of them ours

it knows what we have done
before we have conceived it

dust falling modern
on all the neighborhoods

time’s up but keeps on raving
as they drag it from the stage

here we are, the world
what is and what has been

how much dark is needed
before we know it well

let me keep this keeping
mu is wood, quang enclosed

enclose them with a bell
soften it with snow

sleeping on the run
dreaming of extinction

everyone sleeps alone
on the ice of his choosing

we open the forest door
and the light brims over

all dreamed things are open
no knowledge of the closed

the swallows dart quickly
but the owl is heavy

people leave their porches
to watch television

history will remember
eternity came early

blue light in the windows
as far as you can see

you don’t feel much
don’t think much either

the little dog hates you
even when it smiles

something in the language
doesn’t know us well

ten kinds of typeface
and not one style

not exactly poignant
the price of merchandise

guess we’ll have to find
another culture later

space is too exacting
and time wears plaid

we have lived our lives
according to its plan


Easy light in the room,
easy chairs, some of them lazy,
and her easy way of walking

like she owes the world nothing.
Some easy music is playing
on the tough side of town,

and that easy way of dancing
could lead to something great,
if for once in your life

you decided to take it easy.
No zig-zag parade,
no puritans walking and stalking.

Easy come, easy go,
the world is easy living.
You read the book in an hour,

and don’t look up a word.
She kisses you easy,
on the lips and heart, too.

Let the easy movement of water
take you under the bridge,
around the next bend,

and all the way out to sea.
The rain falls so easily,
as if it had nothing to lose.

Write what is easy,
sings the novelist in the choir,
the cellist in the zoo,

and old men at the bar.
Easy does it every time,
thinks the lady in her bed,

the bird in its nest—
all the world easy,
and you will be at rest.

I Write Myself

I find myself
by letting go
what I was,

to find a self
not I myself
but the one

passing by.
Writing is
a letting go,

thereby to
read the reader
and be read

in return
by the ones I
soon will be,

being rended by
the mess I make

being born again,
beyond fences,
down wells.

To grow in love
by writing then.
What isn’t is

what could be,
possibility and
murder when

just breathing
would do. I
unknow myself,

become space
and then time.
To write is

to wrong then,
be the cellar
and the star.

The mess is
our precision,
its hunger

the only goal.
To right myself,
I erase myself,

beginning with
my hand. You there
are here then,

the one who’s
always with me,
all the way in.

Paul Hoover will have three books published in 2018: The Book of Unnamed Things (Plume Editions / Madhat Press), an Italian edition of his novel Saigon, Illinois (Carbonio Editores, Milan), and his translation with Maria Baranda of The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz (Milkweed Editions). Editor of New American Writing and Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, he is Acting Chair of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.

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