Bob Hoeppner has been a submarine radioman, bartender, and software developer. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sijo, Red River Review, Panoplyzine, Leaping Clear, and elsewhere. He is the author of the book My Cynical and Sentimental Eye. He lives with his wife in the Texas hill country.
The Sound That Wakes You Up Into A Night
Suspended in a pellucid drop
of the present always about
to drip from the past I hover over
the future, the drain that tunnels
into the end of me.
All my mistakes are socks
washed and hanging over the shower
rod, tongues that would lick
me from the faucet if I let them
touch. There is a mirror
above somewhere that is no
use to me, a sky of faces
passing as clouds, sometimes
storming, sometimes twisting
like a drain of air looking
for someone to suck away
like the bug crawling out
from the drain whose feelers
reach for me. There is a dingy ring
which is a horizon of where
others have left their consciences.
It would take more scrubbing to remove
entirely. They don’t hear me clinging
here. They will only hear me when I fall.
Living in Stereo
I now look at a person like
one of a pair of ear buds,
looking for a little L or R to tell
me which side they are meant to be
plugged in. They talk and
I try to know which ear to listen with but
sometimes the label is so small and
smudged I can’t tell the L from the R
and I grow nostalgic for the days of mono
so that I’m not listening at all but hearing
music but there wasn’t only one kind of music there was
the L of Woody Guthrie and the R of Sousa and I liked Strauss
the Waltz King not the dubious
one who composed under the Nazis.
When faced with too much sound the L
and R break down and each sounds like
the other in their level of contempt so
it is a white noise from red throats
sore with the outrage, no, the inrage
directed outward like tuba breath elbowing
out the oboes. Nobody knows
what others think but say they do. They
are musicians looking to the conductor for
gesture they think tells them what he wants as
his thoughts are elsewhere even
as he points now L no points now R.
my friend request before one of us dies.
I’m sorry we lost touch for a few
decades. Time was a sleeve our arms
slipped right through and now our hands
are at the ends of our cuffs. I wave
mine to yours but you haven’t
responded. You have over a thousand
acceptances and yet my request
constantly looks over its shoulder
to ask if I’d like to cancel it.
I look at your face, smiling
with family, with friends, with colleagues.
I imagine your face frowning
at my request. “Why
after all this time? Must want
something.” Yes, I want
the other side of a bridge to my youth.
I stand on this side of it, the pylons of life
events holding it up, and then blue water
in your eyes, so that the bridge is a short
pier on which I’ve longed walked. I swim
in memories that could be wrong. No
saving from you who were there.
You are gone as truth, meaning
you are present as mistakes, with me
as much as a favorite toy I threw away.
I pull the string on the doll of you and you
only wet yourself. On this side
of the bridge, in the capital of my
fictitious country, the things I thought
were important, like bells in churches,
go slowly mute over the more necessary sewers.
What’s that whiff I smell? It’s you