Six Poems
Ray Hinman

Hobos Near Tacoma

Bridge above the gorge,
lights of tightwadded Tacoma.

A Chaff blown state,
sunlight yellow, wheat field yellow.

Everything gritty is also smooth:
riverbank, bedsoil, rescue mission grit.

Like polished stone or sanded wood,
the view from any part of town
takes in the polish of lyrical land.

The bridge spans the gorge,
the trail leads to the bank like perdition.

Fifteen campfires pinpoint the bank,
even the stars lack shelter in Tacoma.


Our Cities Will Vanish

Our cities will vanish
the way they were built,
in flurries of greed and seduction.
Dallas for instance,
was founded by Appalachian
lean men with gaunt faces
and a burning in their eyes.
Now another Dallas has sprung up
where they built,
a Mecca for the mercenaries
wrapped in steel glitter,
wrapped in gold glitter, burning as brightly
as their lust.
Practicality is their monument
to their fathers.
the faith of Pariahs:
the gleam of a bauble pawed by cats.
When pressed
they will admit truth is beautiful.
for instance,
is even more beautiful
when it's mysteries are revealed, and so
they still admire the moon,
praise it,
for remaining such a worthy objective
for their calculations
of trajectory,
they admire Einstein, who "thought up some good physics,"
that will allow them to build other Dallases
on distant planets.
eternity is PROfound.
And yet,
the only eternity they believe in
is the eternal distance between classes,
between races,
between failure and success.

Our cities will vanish
the way they were built,
and return even more mysteriously.


After Reading Marcuse

Alienated from work, we are alienated from the elements:
the wind flings its idiot-rattle
and binds me to it's blade.
Drops stare into the oblivion of dispersal,
fire abdicates the rage of it's touch.
I wander among the tables with their fine little cups,
all who drink stare dumbly,
eyes wide with no content.
Only the earth is faithful.
It holds the sediment of ages
and waits for my contribution.


Double Entry

A lute strums beyond the window,
florins gleam on the fresh, white cloth:
the ledger can contrive the polis;
empty hands can always grasp death.
Across vistas workers die,
across time the campecinos are gleaned
like wheat.

In Spain, in Greece, in Guatemala,
in Chile and El Salvador,
his wit unleashed a bloodlust.
Such a simple, civilized gesture, such a profound
and clever invention: the coins gleam like drops
of golden blood.


And Then He Sold the Third World

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First he sold tobacco to the third world,
and the cancer wards were clogged
with bloody sputum.
And he became a house filled with fine glassware,
and he shined with yellow windows
against the blue of night.

Then he sold pesticides to the third world,
babies were born without hands and feet.
And he became a little sports car,
he sped over roads that ran by the sea.

Finally, he sold arms to the third world,
grass huts went up in flame.
He became a wardrobe, a sound system,
a rain-smeared deck for the patio.
He became everything that is bought and sold,
everything that hasn't got a mind,
everything but a man.


The Thing You Will Miss Most

Against the whirl of night life
you hold your heart
like some fragile glass thing
that hums approval or hatred.
We should lament the loss of higher things,
but when our democracy is gone,
this will be the thing you miss most.