Listen to Julie Hanson read "They are Widening the Road:"
They are Widening the Road
It has begun. The orange cones, disturbed
and tumbled into rolling hazards.
The clay-colored dirt pulled out from hills
and piled. The pipes have been revealed, enormous,
that lurked all along underground.
The backed-up traffic, the heat. The barriers
in shapes of barrels, hurdles, stakes.
The back-hoe making three-point turns.
The sun that bakes the dust. The sun
through glass that magnifies the heat.
Too near to every business here, and house,
a mile of road has moved from controversy
into long and widening regret.
Here is the church, the hardware store,
the auto supply, the bank, the gallery,
the pharmacy, the school. Here is the other
auto supply. Here is the world
with its six billion people, with its
how many random cancellations
of the single will, hopeful, defeated,
locked once to another—rhythm, scent
and curvature—in the ancient act
of increase, not thought of in these terms,
but felt: a direction that was sure.
Detained, detoured, deferred.
The personal is different than the whole.
We are directed into other lanes.
Does anybody out there feel
that the issue of fairness has been given,
all too often, a disproportionate attention?
It takes but gentle mention and the matter’s
tabled yet again. With us
or without us, an agenda slips along
like mercury through tubes of glass.
The line is longer and the great big sound
from close behind is right inside our car.
There is no moving up in line
and the pavement of the lane ahead is ripped. Pilot car Follow me
Listen to Julie Hanson read "Allocation:"
Good night—you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England!
— John Irving
Truth is, I entered my family rather straightforwardly.
I was a dime on a sidewalk, gleaming.
Whatever disorientation was borne
from the drop and the spin, the pocketing dark
is reapportioned with benign intent
when I think of what awaits the clones
as they are told the stories of their origins.
Or, sooner to unfold and no easier,
the stories for those selves
who, through the planned accidents of their lives,
will lay down the precedents
for the reproductive future:
XX, who came from the hundredth
egg of a fetus never born.
Harvest of harvest. Daughter of none.
And XY, whose comatose father
was hardly involved.
So that to locate the male initiative
we really must visit his parents
whose grief, double-taxed and thereby emboldened,
jumped over the tomb.
Alms from the young.
Alms from the deeply unconscious.
Shall we call him Ditto whose very
mention brings all we meant instantly to mind?
Or shall we call him Xerox,
little word disjointed from its etymology,
little word that’s hopped out, dry?
And if we call her Fay, coming to us from Faith,
who will stop her, when she’s of an age,
from spelling it Fey,
which changes our meaning completely.
Winged instant of spirit, creature unreal.
Captured Possibilities, that’s what you
even in your serums are, compilations of
the spoken for and the anonymous.
What neon colors will show up
in the regions of your fantasies,
what elements of randomness to spackle your dreams?
Who would dare project trajectories
for your identities? Who can think of you
and not, with their next thought,
begin? Those dewy blue eyes!
That cherubim skin! Those plump
dimpled knees and dear rumpled ears,
those opposable thumbs.
Someone waits for you, counting the days
to completion. Someone counts you
foremost among fortunes.
Yet surely will your days
step one by one before you,
and simply close behind you, done.
May your inventions all begin in paradox.
May your marketing be genuine.
Julie Hanson's collection, Unbeknownst, won the Iowa Poetry Prize and will be published Spring 2011. Prior awards include the 2010 Adele and Robert Schiff poetry prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has work in recent or forthcoming issues of New Ohio Review, The Cincinnati Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Tampa Review, Booth, The Iowa Review, and on Poetry Daily. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and coordinator of a food-buying cooperative in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.