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Richard Hague

Richard Hague is a long-time member of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative (SAWC) and more recently, of the Writers Association of Northern Appalachia (WANA). His latest books include the prose collection Earnest Occupations: Teaching, Writing, Gardening & Other Local Work (Bottom Dog Press) which was listed as “Recommended” by the US Review of Books; Riparian: Poetry, Short Prose, and Photography Inspired by the Ohio River, edited by Sherry Stanforth and Richard Hague (Dos Madres Press) and Studied Days: Poems Early & Late in Appalachia (Dos Madres Press.) He continues as Artist-in-Residence at Thomas More University in northern Kentucky.

Lunch on Logan Street

The closeness of my grandparents’ kitchen: smaller than
Pap Pap’s locomotive cab. Our knees bumped when we sat.

Grandma would slice the fine Italian loaf, lay on a slab
of bologna, plate it then stand aside.
She’d already fed me, there for lunch from school:
with steeled attention I watched him eat.

He’d lift the top slice, confirm its slabber of mustard,
slap it back down, open wide. That’s when
the clacking began. Faint, not like the heavy
tunk tunk tunk of boxcar wheels across rail joints,
but quieter, closer—moister.

His dentures, loose, slackened and tightened
as he bit and chewed, bit and chewed. He smiled
at me, crow’s feet crowding the corners of his eyes,
Some choppers, hey boy?

Waking midnights, sneaking to the bathroom,
I’d study them in their wide jar on the sink,
their whiteness, the pink of the rubbery gums, white and pink,
like the bread and bologna they’d worked that day.

And the dry of coal heat up from the register,
and his snore and snort in the next room
where he slept, and the cinder-smudged hands of him,
and the voice that, angered, could bite off an arm
or start a storm: Ironhead, man-god, mystery,
eater of a lifetime—who walked, nightly,
clean away from his teeth.

“Very Close Knowledge”

–Sharon Olds


As in sex? If I want
to know the insect,
must I? Not possible.
God would discourage
such miscegenation, let
alone physics and
anatomy. Yet I am
as always drawn
to the little world
that gets big
when I enter it,
vast savannahs of
backyard lawn, jungle
wilderness of vacant lot,
expansive hunting grounds
under the broken slab of
sidewalk. Sometimes
I feel fit
to some other world
than mine, want
to speak in clicks
and hums
like the katydid or cicada,
to feel my whole small body
vibrate when I sing.


Or to fly: yes,
loft over the constellate dandelions
and hover, light as sunshine,
in an infrared blaze
I put on like a cloak, not
invisible, no, but so
alien to my former kind
as to be unrecognizable, yes
to alight on the hand
of her like a mosquito, or to swim,
navigate the abyssal
birdbath’s August ocean
like a living bathysphere, all
excitement, light pleased
to pass right through me,
water holding me up
like a hero.
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