“I responded greatly to her poems.

They are moving and illuminating. Her

work deserves to be recognized.”


— Ruth Stone

 


 

POEMS • JUNE 1, 2008

This page features poems by Victoria Hallerman. A fresh selection of works will be published here on a regular basis.

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I find my words in a drawer                                  

I find my words in a drawer
someone else’s
the woman ten
or twenty years ago
who remembers
the woman thirty years ago.
So do I.

Who am I?
Asked at the beginning:
a fortuneteller’s query.
Asked i the middle:
a calling out to figures on ice floes
still recognizable, receding.
Asked at the end
Who was I?

—Victoria Hallerman

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Sculpture by George Segal                                  

They’ve been standing at the light
so long they’ve turned to salt.
Maybe they’re confused because
it says WALK, DON’T WALK.
The man in the foreground has forgotten
where he is, wide stance,
hands in pockets.
He’d be meditating if he weren’t
ash-white and immobile.
They might be enchanted,
folks who’ve stepped into a fairy ring--
a hundred years won’t age them a minute.

They’ll wake up, the light will change
and they’ll have the whole planet
to themselves.

—Victoria Hallerman

Reprinted by permission of Bright Hill Press, The Aerialist, 2005

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Look to the River

Wing tilts:    slice of cloud.
Out the window of the descending jet
river curves a flash at me:
I’ll take that smile. River’s a friend,
Ohio.

Home I still say.    Going
back where she no longer sits
at the table, book propped.
Still standing? The house, yes
but she isn’t and he
isn’t. They lie beneath their dates. The house
—I’ll drive by.

We’re under the clouds now.
Barn roofs snow and empty jade
green winter fields
cattle hidden waiting out the winter.
Lone cars on narrow roads and chimney smoke:
who are these living in
my land? My once-upon-a-time.    Long ago

flying home I trained myself
never to look for a face
at the crowded gate:
I took a cab or rented a car--she would pay.
Now that early practice in loneliness
serves:
no one is missing here.

Only later in the hotel
bags unpacked will I know
(each time I have to learn again)
this isn’t home
but I was born here.
Look to the river
coming.
Going.

—Victoria Hallerman

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One

I am only one
wrote Eckhart alone in his cell
yet I am one

like God so big with time, the sum of us and each

to travel a single dark bloody river
opening into the common light

—then to die alone
the private act.

one is one and all alone and ever more be it so.

Add a grain of rice, a silver wartime penny, one more voice:
the strength of one is in adding.
Take away, you hardly notice for a while

One can be divided
bullies work that way you step over there
you there

but math is not life after all
I am only one he said
yet I am one
--no such thing as half a living spider.


—Victoria Hallerman

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Two
                Although the distance between one and two is
                finite,it contains infinite fractions.
                                                    —Eula Bliss

One was whole in its dark.

Then out of water, pulled into light
into rawness,

it came, sucking.
Two is a betrayal of one:

out there a world,
the milk.
  Then
the dangerous fractions dividing—

bloodied knee, wasp sting, thirst, loneliness
--splinter the space between. Sharp,
this world that contains us
and all things, even the comets of dust and ice

and love?
Complicates, tries to make one again
out of two.
  The seam

won’t hold.
Hold on

—Victoria Hallerman

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Richmond Terrace Looking East

             For here we have no continuing city,
             but we seek one to come.
                                                    —Hebrews, 13:14


At the abandoned factory:
two mounds of gypsum whitened by the snow
perfect as real mountains from a distance.

Farther down, the soap whistle
sounds at eight and noon and four,
the siren I’ve been expecting all my life.

Monday when the refinery blew
shingles slid from the roof,
windows rattled, the clear
gelatin panes of a gingerbread house,

and I moved with the confidence
of a sleepwalker to the window.
All night long it roared
just gasoline and fifteen miles off,
but it sat three days on the horizon.

Snow sifts, webbing all the branches,
but in the lot where we walk the dogs
bottles and cans are already poking through,
turds, a cast-off cigar;

the journeymen shovelers will stitch again
their bootpath up and down our drive,
soundless as angels ascending
and descending heaven’s ladder.


—Victoria Hallerman

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