Madison, Wisconsin

31 May 2008

Five Poems

It is Four Degrees.
On Concessions  
A Public Report

About Ray Hsu



It is Four Degrees

This is how I picture it.

There is a field
that I would have drawn.

It contains several birds.
Some can see me

closing my eyes. There
time passes.

It takes one minute away from me.
It takes one from my parents.

It puts light where the branches should be.

I have erased a few branches.

I have erased your ankles.

I have recited nothing.

But some thank you
takes over my heart.

They see it on my face.

This field walks through me.
It weighs barely anything.

I thought I had gotten rid of everything.
But the field.



On Concessions

Concessions long

after the fact collect in the rungs
of the dish rack. Our moon dries them

from across the way, it adjusts as clouds
make room. Yet the precise way

to expect them strikes us as ignoble,
always has, so we file away what proper

adjectives and other things we can
between the distant gaps

in a long disinterested quiet. Old age. I prefer to be reminded
of the divisions, that we watched comedies too,

that each time we preferred different
endings. Someone must unlatch the gate

and lay them back up in the eaves, hinged to the earth in their own way. Maybe someone

also resigned to his own stories. Someone must be the servant

while you sleep.




Satisfy, satisfactory
diet. What is worse,
bombs or leathery interviews. But you
spend the money
politics aside. Deter
deter. Today the list
knows who you are.      It is
a good fortune. It is
not an aphrodisiac.       It is
a thistle. Deny
deny. Pull it apart,
teeth wise.        It is
hideously glad for company. Damned, finally,
shrug. Anything to gain
sinks in. Outside a stain
sets. Lettuce, reassure
me. Abduct
abduct. It is
glad for company.




It is the open season. We assemble trees

at an age for serving life. In the clearing

we have an audience. Like an ancient, familiar radio

two of us play tribe, the only creatures alive.

Come here. Light up. Like a trumpet I burst

out laughing. The better off we are. See our great cities flow

and collapse. Multiple happy

explosions rocket in increment.

The trees scoop us up in their mahogany arms. The flames

die out. Is it dawn? we howl. Think of then, we write.



A Public Report

Dear Sir or Madam:

Over the last 4 months
Austin, Mumbai, Portland
we never finished. December 12,
4:15 p.m., we presented
sufficient dignity and overwhelming
feeling. In a state
of developing
affair, we circled
emergency. We circled
our ability to respect.
Where our inclination
for nihilism had been, our presentation
was possessed with sophisticated
                        We are good for the facts.

                        We opened our notebook
on the dotted line.



Ray Hsu is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His first poetry collection, Anthropy, won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award and was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He has published poems in The Walrus, New American Writing, and Fence. Hsu won a Humanities Exposed Evjue Research Award for establishing a creative writing community and GED tutoring program in a prison. He was featured in Heart of a Poet, a documentary series on the television network Bravo.