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Lawn Party


Charles Hibbard

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 Charles Hibbard

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Table of Contents

1. Wedding Film

2. Daybreak

3. Nature Sanctuary

4. Tombeau de Couperin

5. Too Many Worlds

6. A Marriage

7. Recombinancy

8. October

9. Some Season

10. Robert Street Bridge II

11. Little Legends

12. Selinunte

13. Semiprecious

14. After Life

15. Yorick at the Multiplex

16. Extreme Osteophagy

17. Mexican Blackberries

18. Pests

19. Ashes to Ashes

20. Over There

21. Lawn Party

22. Veterans Memorial Park

23. Listen

Wedding Film

Those are June hats

wedding hats


shading young smiles

and flutes of champagne.

Sweeping curves project

far beyond smooth brows

and cutely curl up in back

dark blue with a

black band and a bow

or pale blue dipping

over laughing eyes

rising on the sides

then swooping

to protect a graceful

lace-collared neck

and then a blue ziggurat

with narrow brim fluted

as a tin roof’s edge

a tower of lilacs

like a warhorse crest

and one sunny little straw

crowned with something

like a jaunty ram’s horn

tipped with red...

All now gone

to dark closet shelves

or vintage stores

and brave new heads

or landfill where the daisies

and darling ribbons

draw yakking gulls.

And that June date now

a dance floor swept clean –

though still on this mute

and faded screen that party

and those guests star-scattered.

Turn down their empty flutes.


In Memory of Weldon Kees

Early in the morning the cat

enters the bedroom

and positions himself

on my chest. My wife

dozes beside me, her hand

on his back. I’m wondering

why I wake up every day

to this particular world.

Cat, I say: Putin

Kim Jong-un. His purr

is a steady slippage of sand

with a secret pulse.

Heat wave wildfire typhoon

Harvey Irma Jose I say

the purr now has a crackle

the cat rearranges himself

grows longer butting my chin.

My wife sleeps on. Erdogan,

I say, Pruitt Coulter Giuliani

Charlottesville Nice

Istanbul Isis

extinction Brexit Trump!

The cat lifts his head.

Breakfast, did you say?

Nature Sanctuary

Cicada songs to twilight rise

and a descant of crickets

over soft backfill of


Nighttime grows

from the ground up

as white dots of cottontails

spatter to tall grass

and a mallard tows her wake

with three young across

the pond’s dark glass

calmly as though the nine

of July still trailed.

Given time

I might learn to love

this shabby remnant

cornered little prairie

this rumor of sewage

these lanky weeds

and clanking close by

in the parallel world

the travel-dusted trains.

In the west behind

blocky black shapes

an ancient pink fades

down from the sky’s

barely blue, an earthly shade

that declines to die.

Le Tombeau de Couperin

That bassist could be my cousin

who drowned in his own pool:

nose, mouth, glasses, hair

all the same, as though

he led a double life

one of which we missed.

Only the nimble fingers

pacing, pensive or brisk,

up and down the viol’s neck

could not belong to Jack.

He had no talent for song.

Tonight his whole

sad funny trip ascends

from this rippling dirge

to the roof and coils there

in baffled shadows.

Too Many Worlds

In this view of things

at each fork in the road

the world splits

into two branches one

in which you turned left

another in which

you turned right

one in which you married

another in which

you got a cat or

more minor choices

one where you poached

another where you fried

one where you drank red

and another white

you stayed up reading

or went early to bed

and so on and on

with all the wakes

that widened from those

tiny swerves to cause

arthritis or marathon

nonfiction or novel

children or hamsters

war or roses

But wait

it’s not even that simple

because every moment

it’s not just cream cheese

or lox but also butter

or jam or even hummus

and at some divides

as many choices as

points on the compass

i.e. infinite and it’s not

just your choice

but everyone’s and plus

every bird’s (this branch

or that one?) and every lion’s

(bring down the gazelle

or that warthog?)

and every bacterium’s

(mitosis now or later?)

and every blood cell’s

(this capillary no that one)

and every molecule’s

(bind now or wait

for the next protein?)

and every photon’s

(slit A or slit B or maybe

as the rude quantum

mechanicals try to tell us

both A and B!)

So that in this model

from the clock’s first tick

whatever that means

there must abruptly be

a vast fleet of worlds

cruising forward and

splitting and splitting

infinite numbers all

splitting infinitely

every nanosecond

an explosion of worlds

and so in my view nothing

but a thinning bland

gruel of everything.

I don’t call that a world.

And anyway how can it be true

because in that infinite world

every possible sub-world

must also exist

including the one in which

none of that crazy splitting

ever happened so that

instantly the infinite others

wink out and there’s only

this one

the one where you poached

and married me

and definitely went to bed

early and both of us

bootstrapping helplessly

into something we’re bound

to call the future.

So, never mind.

A Marriage

With her face to his chest

she says, In Brooklyn

I would see the lights on

in our windows as I walked

down the hill on Second Street.

Then I knew you were home

and my heart would sink.

That was decades back.

His arms around her

in the bed he repeats:


As though he can’t even think

where that might have been.


I began as the result

of a composer’s block.

I could request a next note

primary superstructures

something more concrete

a set of instructions

to code new sets of rules


to the educated ear

the invention of new letters

interpreted correctly

almost certainly produces


all the great books

delighted angered terrified

the English language

as well as creating

their octave equivalents

and so

ultimately I do not believe

the future will have

subtlety and elegance

the music created by

the greatest of our

personal human inspirations

as I understood them

[From David Cope’s “Experiments in Musical Intelligence”]


Hurried sparrows

busier even than

shivering leaves

leave one by one

the sun-burned trees

and swerve down

to tall grass.

This silent dawn

untroubled by wind

or weather means

the birds may stay

one day more

and each leaf still

pick its own moment

to fall.

Some Season

Crackle and snap of banners

signify to the cold wind

the broad stream reserved

and silent save

a private whisper

about listing pilings

curves away

through arches

of a stolid bridge

Sunbeams send

shadows of steam

fleeing across walls

my shoes kick

my shadow away

from the sun that leans

down for a long look

at some season

always ending

Robert Street Bridge II

Not long after the rain ends

but not the wind

unseasonably warm

a lone tortilla naked

on the wet walkway

among the shrinking

black winter drifts.

Far below

the river

an angry mob of ripples

foam-flecked lips

talking trash.

Little Legends

No less than Bach

or Bonaparte, our own

little legends

sight-reading Chopin

calmly intently or

incubating goose eggs

on the schoolhouse roof

eventually shrivel and shrink

to a halt and so confess

their mere humanity

as if we didn’t know it.

Their bon mots and lies

their stumbles and leaps

prizes and treasons

ambushes of kindness

relieve the rolling

prairies of our lives

like eroding crests

of dead volcanoes

whose buoyant blasts

will color our sunsets

for days or years

if not for the eons.


Fat with moisture

a sea wind scours

this promontory of flowers

with its jumbled timefill

of toppled stone.

It reminds me of other ages

when birds crossed these waters

every spring and fall

knowing they had

somewhere to go.

A change in the weather

and a change in the sea.

A salt haze

drawn down to blur

the clean sky’s hem.


A pebble on the tongue

may lend the dry climber

a moment of relief

in the afternoon heat

when the springs

shrink to trickles

and gaps between them

grow long.

The trail is strewn

with stones, all shapes

and sizes. One of them,

smooth and round,

after a brief reminder

of dust on the tongue

can ease the thirst

like water itself –

though a stone is just

a stone. But who knows

where it’s been?

After Life

Sometimes on the border of sleep

I see something like birds

all flying away from me and then

as the surrounding black implodes

see myself still seeing myself

though I’m no longer there.

I’m not fooled. That vortex

will swallow the stars

with all their love and traffic

and me too

and my blinking stare.

Yorick at the Multiplex

My attention sliding from the film

I find myself idly pressing the rim

of my eye socket at its corner

where my eyeball won’t interfere.

I can feel the edge of bone

flatten there in a sort of flange

that curves up toward my brow.

And suddenly here

is my skull, mine alone,

unnoticed but dear,

currently stuffed with my own

eyeballs and other vile jellies,

but later (and not much later

at that) once my orbit decays

and spirals into the sun,

just one among billions.

Extreme Osteophagy

Yanked from my bed

my brain an anvil

into the night forest

above me distant sky

behind me the dread feet

over my shoulder

the toothy grin just before

my skull and scapulas

femurs and tibia crumble

like crackers washed down

with swigs of blood...

Just an old nightmare

of mangled bones?

But then who

is screening this dream?

From what jungle

do these tall mushrooms

billow and burn

and whose guts

festoon the trees?

Did He who made

poor Rex make me?

Mexican Blackberries

Frost on the windows’ feet

in the fruit section

of the supermart but

Mexican blackberries

organic plump like

factory black pearls

flown above broad freeways

to thoughtless buyers

like me here

contemplating a pack

and wondering –

Neal and Jack

after Mexico

not even that old

by then both mute

but surely still searching

I wonder

what they found

when their own

deaths wandered by.


The poor pests

invade our fields

our parks and silos

occupy our homes

our cupboards our guts

graze our eyebrows

party in our private zones

ranging free as

savage horsemen

across the canyons

and ridges of our skin.

What slaughter

there will be when

the last of us finally

goes down or raptures up

and leaves them all

on their own again...

Ashes to Ashes

Now that we know

the carbon footprint of death

we can’t even

free our souls from our flesh

without guilt though

anyway they say it’s only

equivalent to a road trip

a few hundred miles.

Over There

Never mind their promises

they never call and never write,

never visit, never a card,

not so much as a tweet

from them over there,

or a simple posted Hi!

From which we must conclude

there’s no there over there

or that whatever there is

over there is so huge

it dwarfs whatever

there is over here,

puts it all in the shade,

shrinks our small potatoes

to pointlessness,

frailer than the fallen sparrow.

Over there they can’t be bothered

with what happens

or happened over here.

But your glance, your hand,

your heart whose beat

I sometimes feel

in my own pulse...

can that be nothing?

Some other god, not mine,

must run that heaven.

I’ll take the long sleep

and its vapor of dreams

if that’s what’s over there.

Lawn Party

Inside the house our host

wordlessly opens doors

to lead us through

cluttered summer rooms.

Outside beyond the glass

in the smoke of twilight

a lawn party of the dead

conversing calmly

quietly, the beloved

furnishings of my life.

I would go out

to greet and join the crowd

but can’t make myself step

on that slope of lawn

that somewhere beyond

this dream drops off to water

and the water to world’s end.

Veterans Memorial Park

The veterans memorial park

“For those who care”

a lawn neatly groomed

and a statue or two

squeezed between the freeway

and a few treesy homes.

Those who care today

a limping cranky woman

and her agreeable dog.

Once I signed up for a war.

I was willing but lucky

and no one ordered me

to bury my future in some

silent sloping lawn

so when that marching stopped

I brought it back home

and went on living it

with hardly a second thought.

Decades later my loyalty

embraces a few friends

and family but no longer

humanity and no fables

of flag or faith.

Seen one of those lawns

you’ve seen them all.


This is just a Tuesday

a bit too hot

but a real one

blue skies and sun

chimney swifts slice

the sky, not thinking

any more than cumulus

think to boil up

or flags think to stream

in this warm wind

or I think about this step

and then the next.

I’m tired of thinking.

And I think

I’ve dabbled enough

images and already

talked too much.

I think it’s time

to just watch

and just listen.


You can find other titles by Charles Hibbard at

Retirement Projects

A Burned-Over District

Your Hand, Please. Let’s Walk

Among the Mandolins

The Inelegant Universe

The Popcorn Dance

Brainstorm on Black Velvet

Wear Your Helmet

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