Baby and the Bright Machine

We sing and strum another round
––bees, cows, the shepherd’s stars––
it’s not taxing, not like expounding
toxins on the whiff of new carpets.
Folk-talk is tainted, though, by bubble sheet
and super glue, the chink of heavy metal.
A filly, a folly. Old MacDonald weeds
by aerial misting, a suitable cocktail
for risky exposures. Lace up the shoe.
In the dale, the fiddle, the flute
and all my colors––green, red, and blue.
A medley of symptoms, delayed and acute.
We clear our throats and finish adroitly
with the cat in the snow, A-B-C, a drift-away.

Reading at Night

in a house in which no one stirs

warlords come and go

a detainee recants a forced confession

women bring solar lights to the village

a father waves a hand


earth spins its flustered cities

snow squalls and deserts

scent of lilacs––

wind knocks the house

where we breathe

the wanted and unwanted words


Hungry Ghost       

        Noting that hunger has stalled before his atrophied

       mouth, we want to say, “Eat and drink. Take the food

      set out in the leafy courtyard!” But

          how do you feed hunger?   

         And the man shuffles

       to his office. (Did we  

     hear him scream?)


Anatomy of Song

It’s neither box nor cord, but vocal folds

that waver and constrict. Tones nitch

into skull and mandible, each bone’s

aspect sensitive to vowel and pitch.

When sound turns public, voice is heard:

its timbre offers lesser resonance––

the outer voice estranged from what emerged

within the body. Air columns balance

on a taut pelt, the diaphragm skirts

the thorax for laughing spells and ululation. 

Breath turns inside out in small spurts

of utterance, aims for an aria’s intonation,

   a purer interval––but vocal folds are fretless,

   compromised. So, ease it into air––a passage.

Thinking Potatoes

French Fingerlings. Magic Molly.

In a shallow box by the window

this year’s tubers warm to the thought

of growing. They understand fertility

as a sequence of moves. Fuzzy sprouts

push from the dust-shriveled skin,

eyes urge toward an opening.

Obliging, I will place each tuber

into the soil of their dark-days

like others before me––a line of planters

who have bent over shallow trenches,

who have hilled and watered

and in summer marveled at elegant plants

bearing white and purple blooms.

The strength of these earth companions––

to burrow down and resurrect.

In the Andes, the world-mother is offered

a meal and a sprinkling of chicha.

Does she fathom the depth of our hunger?

Cradled in my hand, this nightshade

offers something like a future.

Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of a letterpress chapbook, The Work at Hand, and a full-length collection, The Next Unknown. She has published poems and translations in the Cafe Review, Cerise Press, the Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, The Fiddlehead, and Poetry Salzburg Review, among other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Hildebrandt lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves as an editor for the Beloit Poetry Journal.

© Ira Joel Haber

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