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C. G. Hanzlicek Poems


At a Lake In Minnesota


Walking the shore toward me

Is the farmer from across the road

A man with seven teeth

And forty acres gone to weeds

The bib of his overalls supports

A belly bloated

By pilsner and boiled potatoes

Each fifty paces or so 

He baits and sets a steel trap

Tells me he’s after muskrats

Says these days their pelts aint worth

A nickel in a whorehouse

But the varmints ruin

The shoreline with their nests

This is a man who owns things

His body his mind

A lake and every foot of its shore

And if a woodpecker 

Breaks through his sleep at dawn

A little jolt of birdshot

Will wipe it away

Clean as a fog of breath 

Leaving his shaving mirror

After he’s rounded the point

I get the broom from the cabin

Beginning where he began

I touch the broomstick

To the baited tongue of each trap

A loud clack moves over the water

A satisfying sound

A life saved

A whole shoreline gone to hell


        -It’s been estimated that atoms

 in your body have been through

 several stars—that they were

 ejected many times as gas from

 exploding stars.

           -Jeremiah P. Ostriker



Chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish

Said when a white man dies

He no longer loved the earth

He wanders among the stars

Shedding his life

Skin by skin

Until theres nothing but a shiver

Of light

But when a red man leaves the earth

He never forgets rivers

White with a new year

Deer dancing through scrub oaks

The hawk

Shaking the sky with his shriek

And the man often drifts down

To breathe the air of the living

To touch stone

To touch water

Crouched at the firepit

Of an abandoned camp in the hills

With my thumb I polished

The obsidian knife I’d found

Something moved through the pines

Almost like wind.

Watch C. G. Hanzlicek read his works here

Poems - Biography