Fall 2008, Volume 5

Poetry by Paul Hostovsky

My Country Isn't

My country isn't
my country because
I'm not myself.
I haven't been myself since
I don't know when.
My mother said
just be yourself.
My father was
himself all his life
and everyone loved him.
But I loved
the smell of the rain
before the rain
more than the rain itself.
And I lived
in the country of
myself all my life.
The food was bad.
The language odd.
The peace unsteady.
So I moved
to the country of
I'm not myself.
To the country of
I don't know who
and I don't know what
I am. And I am
finally home.
There always was
that side of me.
That is the side
that I am on.
I love my country.
I will die for my country.
But my country isn't
my country and I am
not myself.

The Dollar in the Wishing Well

Expensive delicate boat
with a hundred chances on board
floating above the drowned brown
pennies with their one chance each
piled on top of each other
on the abject bottom.

It wavers, shivers, turns
over and the green
president goes under and in
god we trust and all that fancy
acanthus leaf amounting
to a wish
that was taken for granted
yet is not granted.

Green Eyed

And he carried her eyes around on his back
all those years. Because he was a peacock
in her eyes. An erect, shimmering fan of green
eyes all in her head, and heavy on his back,
and dragging them around all those years
because he couldn't leave her, he could only
hate her for it, and feel sorry for her,
and outlive her. That was his plan: outlive her.
It was a good plan, he thought, for she was
sick already from the green. It was spreading
inside her. He could hear her coughing it up.
It was only a matter of time, he thought, hoisting
and balancing the eyes, smiling imperceptibly under them.

A Great Pity

Yesterday my knee hurt and today my stomach hurts
and amazingly my knee has stopped hurting,
but my stomach is killing me. My head feels like a
hundred mediocre love poems with throbbing feet
up on a table in my head, and now my foot hurts
too. I think it's all referred pain from my heart
which hurts more than anything since this morning
I told you I don't love you, I only feel sorry for you,
as if love weren't a great pity. But now I know
the hurt in your eyes is radiating out to my heart
and making me sick with—radiation. The whole house
is contaminated. I know now if I stay here it will kill me.
Pity I didn't know all this till this morning. My heart
pricks. But my knee feels like a million bucks.

BIO:  Paul Hostovsky's poems appear widely online and in print. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac. To read more of his work, visit his website at www.paulhostovsky.com.