The 2River View 16.4 (Summer 2012)

Dustin Hellberg


look how earth fills earth
imperfectly      and leaves these:

a cipher miscued, a tree
shook with angels, a rotting

tooth          and is how the dead
are carried, with chord and branch,

like a swallow’s wing when
diving quick and then

breaking back up, the arc
and flight making with a body’s

swiftness and appurtenance
an instance and a deception,

an aphasia of such grace
we thought it was our lives


New Mexico, your simple panorama of corrugated
metal roofs blossoming in the evening over
the poverty of what must be everyone in the state,
I was drowning in you. And on the day I shored up
and left, the man I’d given three of seven
cigarettes to gave me an eagle feather from his hat,
and said the great spirit watches over good souls,
and he was a holy man, a Navajo shaman,
and I am just this ludicrous person whose heart
is sometimes seen for what it’s worth, with its holes
and threadbare mouth suckling some imagined bride,
never believing these words matter or can transform
one rock to bread or a woman, or will drain wine from the side
of a golden idol, and scare away the vulture eating my entrails balanced on its horns.

Dustin Hellberg, a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, is currently a PhD candidate at Europaische Universitat fur Hoch-Studien, and he teaches at Yonsei University in Seoul, where he is editing an anthology of Korean poetry in translation and finishing a second novel. contact