The Works of Paul Hostovsky
Paul Hostovsky's poems have won a Pushcart Prize, the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from the Comstock Review,and chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, and the Frank Cat Press. His first full-length collection, Bending the Notes, is available from Main Street Rag. Visit his website at: www.paulhostovsky.com
All Poems © Paul Hostovsky
Every time he read or wrote
or heard or spoke the word
suffering, he paused. It wasn't
the solemn way some people pause
to give thanks before a meal,
nor the sudden mid-sentence pause after the name
of someone you loved so much you lose
your breath every time--
Nor was it the ceremonious
moment of silence
sitting on all the bowed heads in a room,
nor the silence that fills a room when a room
empties, the door snapping to.
It was more like a smelling, a listening
for the aftertaste of something in the mouth, something
not in the mouth anymore, but
in the body now. In the pause,
he would listen the way you listen
at the mouth of a well
for a dropped stone,
waiting for it to tell you something.
I couldn't see the forest for her nose
was in the way--her face too close to mine.
I closed my eyes because her eyes were closed
and because it seemed to require some imagination.
That morning we skipped school (I had a test)
and went to the woods. She smoked, I watched her smoke:
her mouth all O's, her breath all white, her breasts
rising, falling. O, how I loved to look!
Then came the test: how look when you can't see?
Looking, after all, was still all I knew.
She knew more, of course, for she was older.
Suddenly her nose was blocking my view.
Her lips, her teeth, her tongue--her parts were there,
but she was gone now. Her wet cigarette smoldered.
We are all attracted to suffering.
And repulsed by it, too.
This doesn’t make the world go round exactly.
It isn’t a law of physics, technically.
But it may have something to do
with the relationships of bodies
in the universe. And also the atmosphere
of Earth. Which is where we all must live
for as long as we have left. For as long as we have
lift. And when you consider all of the plastic
found in the stomachs of dead seabirds—
bits of beach toy, medical waste, gnarled
cassette tape, whole flash drives, a red-striped
straw—it kind of makes you feel ashamed
of your own life. The way a seagull
rides the wind, oscillating, is almost as old
as the wind itself. What’s new is
the adult birds can’t tell the difference
between food and plastic, and they end up
feeding it to their young. It’s a wonder
they can fly at all. In particle physics
there are six different kinds of quarks
known as flavors: up, down, charm, strange, top
and bottom. We used to smoke a lot of marijuana,
then practice throwing and catching them until dark:
forehand, backhand, overhead, under
the legs, behind the back and upside-down.
When my stomach hurts I go lie down
and try to think about something else.
But my thoughts always come back to the pain,
as though it were a kind of home.
O World I Cannot Hold Thee Close
Sometimes I question the whole
Enterprise, I mean the whole
Thing, the whole
Universe which is the one
Verse, the one great
Poem. Sometimes I think
It sucks so bad it’s beyond
Hope. I mean after the Big
Bang, I mean after the First
Fuck, they should have just
Flushed it down a black hole,
You know? I mean it would have
Saved us all a lot of Time and
Space. But I only
Think that sometimes. Other times
I just want to open a window and
Make love to the whole
World, I mean the whole
Earth. Sometimes I just want to
Sniff Earth’s crotch so bad I can taste it.
This usually happens in the Spring
When the sweet and sour morning breath
Of Earth just waking up, the sweaty
Neck and breasts and tangled hair
And ripe armpits of Earth
Stretching after long sleep
Can make me fall in love with the whole
World, the whole
Enterprise of Earth, and all I want
Is to lick the sleep from Earth’s eyes,
Lick the milk from Earth’s magnificent nipples,
Smell the faintly sweet irresistible smell
Of urine on Earth’s sheets,
And just follow it to its source,
Sniffing it out, licking it, eating it, loving it.
is a piece of cake.
Heaven is here.
Heaven is now.
is a relationship.
Take a look
the world is full of
temples. Join one.
Join them all.
Join. Join. Join.
Joy. Joy. Joy.
The joy of God
is a piece of joinery.
It's a joint.