Richard Hague, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in both poetry and prose in 2019. Winner of the River Writing Contest in fiction sponsored by the Cincinnati literary festival “Books by The Banks” and the recent contest in Creative Nonfiction from Still: The Journal, he is author or editor of 20 volumes, the most recent being Riparian: Poetry, Short Prose, and Photographs Inspired by the Ohio River (Dos Madres Press, 2019) and the prose collection Earnest Occupations: Teaching, Writing, Gardening, and Other Local Work (Bottom Dog Press, 2018), listed as “Recommended” by the U.S Review of Books. He continues as Artist-in-Residence at Thomas More University in northern Kentucky.
After keeping count in workshops and seminars
over a couple of years—this time 12 girls and 1 boy
in a poetry workshop, Abingdon, VA.
Are they out in the sun
thinking of riffles, catfish, big cars
with engines that roar like sauropods
at the touch of a foot?
Or are they at the bottoms of lakes,
swimming naked in blue-green cold
where their fathers’ ghosts
lurk like drowned stumps
beneath the gaudy bodies of such sons?
What worries us is this:
they are not here, the boys,
working up shacks or tree houses of words,
building boats of memories and poems.
They are not among us
riding motorcycle lives
that speed off the end of the page.
Only we are here,
the fasts of our silences,
arriving at Nativities of words,
but missing something, worried about them,
and so inventing places for them to be,
poems, plays, slim novels
for those boys,
speaking lives they can come home to,
laughing, ready, irreplaceably
brothers, cousins, husbands.