The Blur of Time

As we approach our
final destinations
and jettison our baggage,
all of my old dogmas and the various schools
they spawned, the petty jealousies,
sloshes together
like the ocean,
like a stomach full of beer.

As for the longing, what was a torrent
begins to subside.

And even the most memorable regrets
begin to finally, just
trickle away...

...like the splendid tropical fish
that followed unforeseen
in the wake of a monsoon
and the sea
into my living room,
that meandered through
the legs of its cluttered furniture
for what seem like years-
timid shadows, easily spooked,
appearing now and then
as shimmering moments
of refracted light,
or as slippery coins eluding my grasp,
while fins swirled in the dark corners
and cool estuaries
of that condemned
wishing well of a house
until the brackish, tidal waters finally

Although it's become
a bit cloudy,
I may even have tried
to build a system
of levees and canals
from the broken backs and legs
of my wicker tables and chairs
to try and coax them to stay.

All of it runs together now, though,
finally, like the ocean
and those tidal waters
and that stomach full of beer...

...and like several tear-stained cheeks
that, through the blur of time,
might just be mourning my loss,
instead of crying in relief
at my leave-taking.


When he finally puts it in, she dreams
of the barricades of her childhood streets,
the teen-aged soldiers with fixed bayonets,
gutters choked with burning tires,
and the clash of lung and withheld breath.
These darkened precincts she knows by scent:
the fractured alleys in which she paused
to breathe the dust of retreating threat,
and the smoldering barriers enforcing laws
that mark the boundary of human desires.


Paunchy and grizzled, he slouches into middle age,
succumbing to gravity and a reclining chair
in the solitude of a basement bunker,
at long last surrounded by all of his
books, well-stuffed in their bindings
and sleek in their jackets, like their authors,
whose faces, as they have aged,
have come to resemble his own-
not yet ravaged, but slack,
semi-pleased or slightly
dazed, as if asking,
alarmed at forgetting:
Oh what was her name?
What in the world was her name?
I can't believe I've forgotten -
that shivering, barefoot girl
in the foggy, moonlit field
with all her grief in her arms.

Tim Hawkins has lived and traveled widely throughout the U.S.,
Southeast Asia and Latin America. Although his career path has
taken some memorable detours into both the grotesque (cannery
slime table worker) and the sublime (ESL teacher for models),
suffice it to say he has primarily worked as a journalist, technical
writer, teacher in international schools, and once, memorably, as a
nose-hair clipper model. He currently lives in his hometown of Grand
Rapids, Michigan, and is married with three young children.

His work has recently appeared in Umbrella: A Journal of Poetry
and Kindred Prose,
The Shit Creek Review, The Literary Bohemian
and BluePrintReview.

2009 Underground Voices