Sunday 8 January 2023

Five Poems by Angela Hoffman




The galvanized pail I lug, drips through the seams 

having been left out, exposed to the weather. 

It filled with rain which in time turned to ice

then melted, refroze.

Too much expanding, contracting. 


I see the tear-stain leak on the gravel it leaves. 

Under the cold crush of my boot, a forget-me-not

loses its chance of bloom.

The smell of metal sticks in my throat.

The handle creaks, corroded with regret

over not choosing the other pail I passed over

turned upside down, never getting its chance to be filled.





September slid its stitches onto October with careful devotion.

The indigo sky cast a stark contrast against the golden grasses. 

We hiked the path through rows of prairie flowers 

discovering an eagle sitting as if he was dropped then sewn 

into this tapestry of loose threads 

of plum, heather, rye, sage, knotted with occasional blues. 

The lemon-drop moths seemed to pull 

us forward so we would not miss the garter snakes basking

the young rabbit, further on, two red-crowned cranes regaling

a doe browsing, a cluster of swallows rising, falling as one 

spun strand. Milkweed pods unravelled their downy wishes 

as he slipped his hand into mine, seamless, all tied together.





I fix the V in the word loVe I had written in my journal.

It looked like loNe. 

I pause, look out the window, see a skein of geese  

in formation against the grey that presents itself today.

The sky melts together with the snow on the rooftops, ground;

a canvas of brokenness painted over with gesso. 


They are hardwired, I guess, to connect. 

There are stragglers who keep showing up, alone

or in a fistfulls of three or four, their necks outstretched

leaVing, leaNing, into the wind

trying to join the fold.  


I sense their desperation to have the stroke of their wings in sync

to be in a line, mirrored by the other, to participate 

navigate in the shift, pulling forward as another pulls back

to be in the rhythm of the give and take, the grasp and release

to be safe in the formation of that V of love where something 

greater, more powerful carries them home.





He rolled out the dough

while I cut out the trees

stars, bells, deer, ivy leaves

sometimes too thick, too thin. 

I pinched together pieces that pulled away

broke off or got stuck 

even balled up the ruin

started over again. 


There was tenderness in the messiness

each of us dusted with flour

marking our commitment to continue

making the best of what was left.



 We Were In It Together


Waiting in line at Walmart 

where there is only one checker with her light on

I notice it is mostly the older who avoid the self-checkout. 

The line is long and it affords us time 

to peer into the carts in front and behind us.

There are some with just cat food, just booze

with medications of one sort or the other

healthy foods, mostly junk foods. 

We learn about each other with our gazing.

Intertwined for a time, narratives unfold

about the cold, the busy season, about the need 

for more human connection with checkers

and for a while we are forged together

in this human conundrum of desiring autonomy, efficiency

while still needing each other. 

A man outside the line screams obscenities 

about the ridiculousness of only one checker 

and those of us in line let our eyes meet

as if to offer this poor soul a pass as there was recognition

of our own impatience, fragility that can warp into madness. 

Then there is a problem and a call goes out for a price check

a manager comes over and I sigh perhaps too loud

and the woman behind me suggests I try the self-checkout.

She’s done it before, she assures.

So they all step aside, shuffle their carts so I can escape. 

And I do figure it out.

As I’m walking towards the doors 

with my cartful of accomplishment and pride

the lady who gave me the courage shouts halfway across the store

You did it! 

We wave to each other as if we were best friends.

Angela Hoffman’s poetry collections include Resurrection Lily (Kelsay Books, 2022) and Olly Olly Oxen Free (forthcoming, Kelsay Books, 2023). She placed third in the WFOP Kay Saunders Memorial Emerging Poet in 2022.

Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and Calendar, Agape Review, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Moss Piglet, Amethyst Review, The Orchards Poetry Journal, POETiCA REViEW, Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Whispers and Echoes, and The Poet Anthology: Our Changing Earth. 

She has written a poem a day since the start of the pandemic. Angela lives in rural Wisconsin. 

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