Poems by Michael Hanner

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Apiary

My friend Sharon raises bees.
In her veil she cranks the handle
of the silver bee smoker
calming the hives.
Bearding, swarming
in the intimate harmony
in which nectar becomes honey
or beeswax candles for any altar.
Scouts return with tales of pollen.
The gilet jaunes
swirl around the point Zero
buzzing with anger at the money
the rich will spend
to preserve what was.
Smoke clears, far below
the bees from the roof of Notre Dame
work the flower beds ringing
the statue of Jean-Paul II,
bring nectar from le square Viviani,
forage in the agapanthus
or make an illicit trip
to the flower market by the Cité metro.
Smoke clears, far below
Macron promises to rebuild.
I have a jar of honey
from Sharon’s bees in the pantry.
Honey stores well.
Tomorrow the bees
will be back working le square Viviani
with its ancient Robinier.
La rue de la Hachette will be again
awash in tourists. They swarm
Shakespeare and Company.
Smoke clears, far below
les pompiers in their silver helmets
have coiled their hoses
and gone away.

 

Undeterred by Death the Adventures Continues

Traveler, I remember when I first saw this river, how it burned for us.
Here is your birthright, in the box: baby teeth and little white shoes.

All I want is a volume of Escoffier, a schmear of red jam on toast.
Try turning the door knob instead, a small subrogation of reality;

to let summer onto the back porch, to sell lotus in the Metro
as high above eagles tumble in the sky. Their grammar, cumulous.

All this in two bare white rooms, fifth floor, no common language,
no rock salt for the icy walkAnd, she said. No elevator.

The best and the most shop for duds with a crisp new sawbuck.
Be careful, the light in the stairwell stays on for ten seconds only.

Our pockets are full of pistachios. Our house was painted red,
so I painted it red again. High above eagles and the angels sortie.

Each morning the master reads an uplifting story about white thighs,
kisses and the fragility of love repeating those porcelain words:

You are the all of it, the everything, the best and the most, cross over.
The room is full of the heady smell of the lotus bought in the Metro.

Help yourself to a ration of roast piglet with baby eggplant.
You used to wait at the mailbox wearing your little white shoes.

Beside the river are the caves painted with red ochre by the ancients.
Yesterday was never sedentary, but a memorable trip, mistake.

Where now, Traveler? Tomorrow is too far to walk, yesterday only
this recollection of pleated tweed skirts, lip gloss and white thighs.

All in all a memorable gig with Mary Baker Eddy, Normans, Mormons,
Thomas Aquinas and my dead Aunt Lulu. Read the book. Buy some paint.

Be ready to paint that house red and red again. The applause fades.
We put on coats and then it’s morning in the garden. We’re back,

eating lamb chops, winding clocks. I wanted the best and the most:
a wig on a windy day, and of course, that tome by Escoffier.

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Michael Hanner is an architect in Eugene, Oregon, USA. His poems are found in Timberline Review, Gargoyle, Southern Humanities Review, Rhino, Nimrod, Mudfish and others. His recent books are October, Adriatica and, under the moniker Forbisher Mandangle, a French guide book, Le Bugue, Black Périgord & Beyond. His other interests are: gardening, travel, English croquet, French cooking and Argentine tango.

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